When you work for a non-profit, staying organized is a valuable skill.
With an ever changing landscape of priorities and a packed calendar, how can you stay on top of it all and give your all to your organization’s mission? Through the years, I’ve adapted a few tips from books, webinars and talking to productive (and happy) people.
Here’s my list of the top 5 tips on staying organized (and sane) at work and in life:
Plan for the next day.
Schedule 15-30 minutes as a recurring task at the same time at the end of your day to prioritize your tasks for the next day.
Organize and prioritize tasks.
I use Outlook tasks, which I pull into my calendar. I break out all of the tasks and list them in the body of the task. Save important emails to each line item, and move completed items to a “Completed” list below. Do the hardest task first, and the simplest (or busy work) last. I like to color code (red-high, orange-medium, yellow-low). If you don’t use Outlook, adapt to whatever format works for you.
Block out tasks as a meeting.
Schedule your task as meetings in Outlook calendar. You can pull in Outlook tasks with all the details to the body of the meeting. If you don’t use Outlook, use Google Calendar or a paper calendar. Whatever works for you.
I read about The Pomodoro Technique many years ago and loved it. It’s a simple time management program created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, which focused on breaking work into timed intervals and taking breaks. I adapted my projects into 30 minute, 1 hr., or 1.5 hour blocks (depending on the project). I do not answer phone or read email during this time, and I set my timer on my iPhone. If someone interrupts you during this time, ask them if it’s urgent and politely let them know you are working on a project. Take a walk or grab a coffee for 5-15 min. when you complete your task. And I like to have a “completed list” on my whiteboard or notebook. That way at the end of the day, I see what I accomplished rather than a list of undone tasks that cause anxiety.
Reset to Refresh.
It’s so important to schedule time to refresh yourself. Eat lunch away from your desk. Go for a walk. Spend time with friends and family. And take your vacation time! This is the time to press the reset button.