It’s 8:00 Monday morning and your boss sends you an email bright and early to transcribe a letter she dictated by 11:00 am. No problem, right?

Just as you start to draft the letter, the next email that comes through is regarding a new client you have to call that morning —before noon…

Rick, from sales, comes over 10 minutes later to inquire about a proposal that was supposed to be finalized by COB (Close of Business) Friday.

Suddenly, the tasks are beginning to pile up! First thing’s first. Organize. And here’s how:

1. Date your tasks. Make sure you have a clear idea of the deadline of each duty/job you are about to tackle. It may also be necessary to add a time deadline on your tasks if they are due the same day. There’s nothing worse than starting a task that takes a backseat to a more urgent one.

2. Prioritize. What task must be completed first? Are there any “fire-alarm” alerts aka “A-priority” alerts that need immediate attention? Of course, do those first. You can assign any remaining “B” and “C-priority” tasks to different days.

Now, let’s take that first task from your boss —10:00 am only allows for an hour and a half time span for completion. This wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have 2 other pending tasks. So, given the time-sensitive deadline, you should start with the letter first, right? Nope. Start with Rick’s sales proposal from Friday. This is a past-due task that needs immediate attention. Next is the letter.

3. Write that stuff down —create a list. Putting it in black and white will give you a clear picture of what tasks you need to complete, and how you can organize by status.

4. Cross off items on your list. As you complete them, it makes it much easier to get in the habit of conquering a consistent pattern of organization. You should start to create your own routine based on your ability to prioritize.

5. Flag your emails. The emails that are most important should be flagged right away. I typically do not un-flag them until the task is complete. This is somewhat of a backup; flagging is my double-check system to make sure the job has been finished.

6. Take notes. Use those sticky notes, charts, spreadsheets, etc. to keep track of what you are doing. Noting the status of the task you are working on will help make the process of tracking it much simpler. That sales proposal from Friday may have been inadvertently put off because of a “fire-alarm” that came up —making a notation of this would certainly help.

One of the key-components to organization is structure. Building structure around your tasks by creating lists, taking notes, and prioritizing will help you take control of them and make for a more efficient and simplistic way to organize.

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