Starting the new year off right…

WOW, it has been far too long since I have blogged… holiday time has definitely taken its toll on me.

Getting back to work after the holidays can be tough…you’ve had time away from work and gotten used to sleeping in and spending time with the family, and now you have to get up early and head to the office. Only to find that when you arrive at the office you are slammed with work and projects that haven’t gotten done while you were out.  How do you get caught up with these older projects and stay on track with the new ones?

Here are a 5 tips (out of the many) that I have learned from some of my professional organizer friends and seminars I’ve attended over the years:

1. Keep a list of projects you are working on. Including each step needed to be completed, dates these steps need to be completed and check them off as you go.  This sounds so easy, but as you get caught up in the rush of the day, you’ll forget some of the things you need to complete and when.

2. Prioritize. Again, sounds so simple doesn’t it.  Of course you want to prioritize your projects, but as people stop by your office and ask you to help out with this one thing that will “only take a minute”, you’ll find that you have spent your whole day (or week) on things that “only took a minute” and got nothing on that list done.  How do you avoid this… easy, by saying “no”.  Of course you can’t just say “no” and leave it at that, so you can say things like:

• “I am working on a project right now that is high on my priority list that I need to finish up.  I can add that to my list and get working on it as soon as I am finished.”

• “I can definitely start working on that right now, however, I just want you to be aware that project XYZ will be pushed back as result” (definitely good if the person you are speaking with is also involved with project XYZ)

• “Does this have to be completed right away, or can I work on it when I am finished with my current project?”

• Is there anyone else who can help with this as I am currently working on some hot projects and am not sure I will be able to get to this today.”

and so on… you get the point I am sure.  You can also check out this blog on prioritization by Jan Wencel a professional organizer.

3. Schedule time with yourself. This works great, especially in a busy office.  People rely on your work calendar (whether it is in Outlook, Lotus Notes or some other program).  So keep your calendar up-to-date and schedule meetings on your calendar with yourself to block out time to work on projects.  Sounds silly, but if your calendar is open, people will schedule meetings at that time.  If you have meetings scheduled all day, you can’t get any real work done.

4. Stay focused. Again, this sounds really easy, but definitely is not. It’s easy to get caught up in commotion of the workplace: stories of holiday vacations, gossip about so-and-so in the office, and early morning chatter about last nights TV show.  So how do you combat those.  Easy, use your list.  Make sure to set a goal for the day on what you want to accomplish and do it.  When people stop by to chat, think about your goal and if you will accomplish it if you spend time chatting.  If you won’t, be polite and let them know you have to work.  Remember, you are getting paid to work, not to chat.

5. Finally, prepare for tomorrow.  The last 20 minutes of your day should be “wrap-up and prepare for tomorrow” time.  This is time to review over your list of projects, see what you accomplished and what you didn’t, prioritize what you still have left to do and write out notes you want to remember on each project (that last one is great for end of day Friday when you know you will forget things come Monday morning).  Also use this time to straighten up your desk.  File away papers that got dropped on your desk during the day, read/sort your mail, clean out your inbox, do a brain dump of all the things that are running through your head that you need to do and get things ready for the next day.  You will be surprised how much better you feel when you come in the next morning to see that everything is straightened up and ready for you to go.  You won’t have to rummage through your desk to find what you need to do that day.

Following those tips are sure to make the new year less stressful and most likely make you a more productive employee.

What tips/tools have you found that help you keep up with the pace of the new year and catch up from holiday time?? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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One Response to Starting the new year off right…

  1. Jan Wencel says:

    Great list, Kim. It’s a good time to be reminded of preparing for tomorrow, as the holiday schedule displaced that good habit for me.

    Another thing I find important is remembering a new start or habit can begin any day…not just at the beginning of the year. What a relief!

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