Working for a busy tendering organisation means that additional work can – and does – pop up at any time, often with a tight deadline. This then creates sporadic workflow, which I know must happen in the most organised of professional services teams. Preparing and being ready for those unforeseen jobs, projects or just simple tasks by adopting some daily office organisation hacks, will ensure you’re working smarter and not necessarily harder to achieve productivity.
If you don’t already have the correct strategies in place, this can become stressful and set you back in the office. Here are some of my personal tips for the supremely organised office. I find these are simple and yet very effective for day to day coordination of the very busy and large team here at Aurora Marketing.
1) Make a daily list – Write everything down! This is my number one project management skill and helps me remember everything I need to do. By making my list and continuously revising it and following it throughout the day, I find my productivity increases and my stress levels decrease. Oh and colour code it for extra organisation across different work flows.
2) Eat the Frog – Once you know what you have to do, then do it! Do not put off what you can do today – whether it is calling back a client to have that difficult conversation or archiving the seventh filing cabinet. Having a list of numbered priorities will help you to move through these difficult tasks to get to the meatier work – and perhaps to make that dinner date.
3) Schedule your time – Firstly identify an available time and set yourself a time limit, remembering that things do pop up and the phone will ring. Don’t set yourself unrealistic or false deadlines and don’t beat yourself up if you miss it – use your time scheduling as a guideline to utilise your time smartly. Your Outlook calendar can be your best friend when it comes to time management!
4) Keep your desk clear – It’s time to get rid of any books, papers, files or brochures on your desk that you don’t need to access today and put them where they live or in a ‘To read later’ tray. Truth is, if you haven’t looked at them again within 3 months, you can probably donate them to the recycling bin. This is usually the biggest make-up of clutter on a person’s desk. If a document contains confidential information, be sure to go the route of shredding, rather than recycling. For all other papers that you feel are important to keep, create a filing system and label items. Sort things out by client/customer, by project, alphabetically, by date, or whatever makes the most sense for you.
5) Keep important information visible – As they often say: “Out of sight out of mind”. Even for the most organised office manager, sometimes things can get forgotten if they are not front of mind. I tend to print off important emails or client proposals to have access to the information on my desk until the situation or task is complete. This is a great way to ensure that an important email or document won’t leave your mind until it’s dealt with. It’s also a good way to force you to ‘eat that frog’.
6) Set calendar reminders – Calendar reminders are a blessing; no task is too big or too small to put a task in. I find these very useful for reoccurring tasks that happen each week or month and are not always on my day to day lists. Use your calendar reminders smartly but setting a few reminders and as much detail in the subject heading so at a glance you know what the reminder is for.
7) Organise your inbox – Every morning I schedule 15 minutes to work through my emails and place them into the correct folders after I have actioned them. My inbox is a bit like my ‘to do’ list – if I can’t get to an email when I first read it, I write it down on my ‘to-do’ list to action today.
8) Learn keyboard shortcuts – Keyboard short cuts are a great way to do things quickly while under tight deadlines. Learning these can take a bit of time but once you have the hang of them, it will become second nature and save you a heap of time. My favourite and most often used throughout the day is Ctrl Z.
9) Group email reminders – Being part of a big team across Australia can mean sometimes things don’t get communicated correctly – or at all. I have a few weekly tasks I need our whole team to complete so I set a calendar reminder each week to send out group email reminders.
10) Never leave the office unorganised – This is something we are all guilty of when you are running out the office to catch a train or meet a friend or colleague. Alternatively, not making that list for Monday or finishing a job can result in problematic situations and lost business. Forgetting to send that proposal first thing Monday morning or to book your boss’s flight home can be a little career limiting, so make sure you leave the office ready to start the next day with productive position and clear outlook on what is priority for the week ahead. Leaving things either uncompleted or not organised can lead to time wasting or even worse loss of your work – the key is to always plan ahead.
So that sums up my top ten tips for great office organisation. No matter how small the task is, even something that takes 5 minutes, it is important to forward plan and have a strategy around everything you do to maximise productivity. Then, when that huge project or workload drops, you are organised and ready to take on anything.
Behind every winning bid is a great team. Feel confident that your project is in expert hands – contact Aurora Marketing on 07 3211 4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.