Getting and Staying Organized - Part II

By: Lisa Marie

Last month I wrote about “getting and staying organized”. We got GREAT feedback from our list and I am excited to be putting together Part II. While the first part was all about email organization, today will focus on follow-up and task organization. The reason getting and staying organized is a two-part series is because you need to a) sort through and respond to all communication in real time and b) have a plan to organize the tasks that take longer than 15 minutes.

The pitfall for so many is when you’re reading an email, you decide it will take longer than you have time to respond and you simply say “I’ll get to this later.” Later comes, but between now and later are 56 more emails. Now you have some that you have responded to and some that are sitting ducks. Days pass and now you have an inbox with people you know you need to reply to but simply don’t know how or what takes priority. Then you do what only seems to make the most sense and you start cherry-picking replies as you have time. Inevitably in this paradigm, you’ve got yourself in a loop that is causing you to waste large amounts of time:

  1. You’ve probably spent 30 minutes reading the same emails over and over again.
  2. You’ve dropped the ball and need to spend time smoothing it over.
  3. You’ve missed a deadline and have to scramble to fix it.
  4. You feel disorganized so you’re procrastinating more than ever.

If this sounds familiar, don’t beat yourself up. You’re in line with a huge amount of today’s workforce. The good news is you can do something about it!

Screen Shot 2023-02-27 at 1.21.46 PM.png

This meme made me laugh and could also not be closer to the truth. Truth bomb – most of what you’re avoiding is not as bad as you think it will be.

It requires ACTION.

Here is the exact BLUEPRINT I use to organize my emails, follow-ups, and tasks.

Step 1: Review I religiously follow and subscribe to the zero-inbox philosophy. Daily I try to empty my inbox to make sure that I am staying on top of communication. It’s vital to my personal brand that I am responsive and I don’t hold up other people. This concept is not new, but also can be difficult to start with after being disorganized for so long.

Step 2: Respond If what is being asked of me in the email takes 15 minutes or less, I handle it in REAL-TIME. There is no need to make people wait.

Hack: I use the software Loom to help me respond to emails FASTER and AVOID meetings. Loom is a simple tool that allows you to record a video or screenshare, send your content up to the cloud, and share a link with someone. I save countless hours filming Loom’s and to save myself the time from typing emails.

Step 3: Flag If what I am responding or initiating requires a reply to keep a project moving forward, I FLAG the email. If the email or nature of the email is important enough, I drop it to Step 4 and create a task.

Step 4 Prioritize If what is being asked of me takes longer than 15 minutes, I add it to a task list. I use Microsoft’s Planner to organize my task lists by category and priority. Once it is populated, I can schedule due dates, add comments, update notes, and track my progress. This gives me a CLEAR picture of what is on my plate and when it needs to be done by.

Hack: Some of those emails you’ve been avoiding are not categorized and measurable rather than random noise. You can sort, filter, and hide what is and is not relevant with ease!

Step 4: Habits The steps here will work if you have habits set to maintain your progress. My habits:

  • Every morning: Review, respond, and flag emails
  • Every morning: Prioritize and organize task list
  • Every afternoon (and as time permits daily): Review, respond, and flag emails
  • Every morning: Prioritize and organize task list

If you think this blueprint could help you get organized, let us know! We’d love to hear how it works for you!