Early in the New Year is an excellent time to review current organizational practices and start new habits. Take a look back and identify what reduced your productivity and apply some of the following steps to get yourself off to a good start.
- Clean out old files and de-clutter to make it easier to find what you need. Check IRS retention requirements for business and tax documents and consider shredding the rest.
- Reprioritize projects, tasks and routines. Put the most important first to get the attention needed. Define dependencies highlighting those to be completed before another is started.
- Whether an electronic app or a paper solution, be sure your calendar is updated with reoccurring meetings and appointments, so nothing is missed in the new year. Don’t hesitate to block personal time for yourself as well.
- Examine your system of managing projects. Looking back at last year can tell a story. Were goals and milestones met or did projects get delayed and rescheduled constantly? If so, it may be time for a process overhaul.
- Organize technology. Determine which tools work best for you and consolidate where you go to find the information you need. If your work area is cluttered with cables consider replacing keyboards, mice, etc. with wireless technology. Update software where appropriate including programs, applications and operating systems. Make sure your environment works for you.
- Perform an efficiency check. How well run are the meetings you attend. Is there a defined agenda before starting? Email can easily become overwhelming so look for ways to streamline its use by reducing unwanted messages, inconsistent standards and an inefficient filing system for finding old conversations. If texting is a primary method of communication, be sure it’s being used appropriately. This goes for all online presence and social media. Make reducing distractions and interruptions generated by phone notifications, unwanted texts and email pop-ups a priority for the year.
As you go through the process ask yourself what slows down my efficiency and what can be changed to bring improvement? Would learning a new skill help? Define where to start your day and what specific tasks should be done first such as answering email, returning phone calls or reviewing the day’s schedule. The key is to take control before someone or something else does.