In order to experience each day in a joyful and productive way, we need to be organized. It’s unlikely we can show up as our best selves and have the capacity to serve others when feeling overwhelmed. While I have favorite apps and techniques, my methods are certainly not the only ways to stay organized. I asked other business leaders what they are doing to manage an overflowing email inbox, to-do lists, and related time management tips.
Below is a summary of collective feedback and my own tactics. I encourage you to try one or all suggestions to get more organized. People will notice and appreciate it as you’ll be less anxious, more focussed and better able to enhance relationships with colleagues and customers.
10 Tactics To Get More Organized & Minimize Stress
- Intentionally set appointments with yourself. Wake up at least 30 minutes earlier than normal to prioritize your day. Popular books to help you include “The 5am Club: Own your Morning & Elevate Your Life” and also The Miracle Morning.
- Manage your energy. Self-awareness is key to being organized and efficient. If for example, you tend to get tired in the afternoon, schedule your hardest tasks in the morning.
- Leverage apps and tools to manage To-Do lists and workflows. My favorite app is called, THINGS, as the user experience (UX) is simple and intuitive. I also like Trello to collaborate with others and meet deadlines.
- Create transition time between meetings. Book 45 minutes instead of 60, and 20 minutes versus 30 so you can take bio breaks and regain focus on the next topic.
- Create email folders and set rules to automatically send messages to a designated place, such as items you are copied (CC). Don’t forget to check the folder later.
- Communicate and set expectations with others. Let people know the best way to reach you, such as text for urgent matters and 1-1 meetings for longer topics, to ensure nothing goes unanswered.
- Color code your inbox. Choose a bright color to clearly see messages from your boss, customers, and other important people that you don’t want to miss communications from. The same applies to calendar activities.
- Read books that focus on getting organized. A popular recommendation includes: “The 1-minute manager meets the monkey.” Also, check out Atomic Habits to break cycles that are not working for you.
- Hold yourself accountable or spend time where others will help you such as caveday.org.
- Give yourself the present of presence. Take breaks. Go for short walks during the day to create mental space. It’s not a nice to do but rather a necessity to achieve peak performance.
Research Proves The Importance of Staying Organized & Managing Time
If you are not convinced of the importance of better organization and reducing back-to-back meetings without breaks, check out this article. You’ll see what happens when there’s a measurable buildup in the brain of stress-related beta waves. According to a new study from Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab. even short breaks can help the brain “reset” and improve focus during meetings.
As you’ll see on the website, when Microsoft measured brain activity in 14 workers during four back-to-back meetings, the introduction of quick breaks with a downtime activity like meditation resulted in fewer beta waves. (Blue = less stress, red = more stress.)
Microsoft Human Factors Lab
I’m interested to hear your favorite hacks and techniques to stay organized and better manage time for collegues, customers and yourself. Send me your tips for possible inclusion in my blog articles and DoingCXRight® newsletter.