Strategies for Working More Efficiently

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There are many strategies for working more efficiently, but I have found that the areas below are where people struggle the most.  So here are some ideas to help you use your time more effectively and work more efficiently.

Make A List

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again:  a “to do” list is your friend.  Here are some task list strategies:

  • Carve out ten minutes at the end of the day to create a new list for the following day.  This will help you wind down at the end of the day and help you jump in the next day.
  • Break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Prioritize your list.
  • Do a few easy tasks at the beginning of the day.  Most people advise knocking off the hardest tasks first, but I find that I am more energized when I complete a few simple tasks and cross them off the list.  Sometimes you need that sense of accomplishment to be more driven to attack those harder tasks.

Organize Your Email

Many email programs and clients allow you to create folders.  Take advantage of this feature!  Following is how I manage my email:

  • I have several different folders arranged by project.  Some projects may have additional subfolders depending on the situation.  Organize your email in a way that makes sense to you and allows you to easily retrieve old messages.
  • Messages stay in my inbox until I act on it.  Once I’ve acted on it, I either delete it or place it into the applicable folder for future reference.  Consider this method as it keeps your inbox relatively clean and at a glance, you know what needs action.
  • For certain types of email, such as newsletters, I create a folder and set my filtering options to place new message that fit a certain criteria into this folder.  These are typically emails that do not require action (other than to read them).  When I have some downtime, I go to this folder and start reading them.
  • I use Outlook, so for messages that require action and are time-sensitive, I use the Flag option to set a reminder so I act on it on-time.

Organize Your Computer Files

I can’t tell you how many times I see hundreds of documents just thrown into the My Documents folder on my client's’ computers.  Computer files should be organized just like paper files.  I organize my business files by client., which may further be broken down by project folders.  I also have folders for my website, marketing collateral, and templates.  Find a systems that works for you and allows you to easily find documents.

Maintain a Calendar

Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for someone to show up for a meeting.  Don’t be that person who is always late, or worse, forgot.  Keep a calendar, whether it’s Outlook, Google Calendar, or a good old daily planner.


Distractions can impair workflow and creativity.  When you are working on something that demands your full attention, consider the following:

  • Close your email program.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Let calls to your landline go to voicemail.
  • Disconnect from your instant messaging program (or “appear offline”).
  • Close your social networking tools.

I’m an organizational freak.  I’d love to hear about how you manage your schedule and workload.  Drop me a line in the comments.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tbisaacs/ / CC BY 2.0

1 Responses:

Sharon Says:

Great tips! Enjoyed your post.

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