As a business owner and a multi-account social media manager, I have a myriad of things competing for my attention during the day – with about a quarter deemed urgent and unexpected. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, and there are days I don’t know if I am coming or going. But, I’ve learned a few tricks for staying organized that I want to share with you.
Tackle e-mail efficiently. In a recent report, it was revealed that white collar workers spend an average of 4.1 hours checking our work email each day. That’s half of an average work day! I am certain this can be cut down tremendously with a few techniques to increase efficiency.
When an email comes in, determine what should be handled now and what can wait for later. It’s tempting to tackle every email, as it comes, but we lose productivity this way. I have a folder called ‘this week,’ where I filter emails that require my attention, but not immediately. I am sure to check that folder each day, as I have time, usually at the beginning and the end of the day. The key here is to get the email out of your inbox, because if you’re like me – seeing dozens of emails lingering – can be daunting. I take thirty seconds to respond to let the sender know that I received their email and that I will get back to them within a certain timeframe.
I also create templates for common inquiries such as leads, FAQs, and requests to talk or meet. This is a time-saver, in the long run.
Give yourself wiggle room before and after meetings. I know several people who schedule back-to-back meetings – sometimes all-day long. I, personally, will not do this. On average, I have between two and three calls or meetings per day. This is not a lot because a large portion of my time is spent on the working hours that are the core of my business. When I schedule meetings, I am sure to give myself some prep time, before the meeting, to gather my thoughts for our conversion. I also give myself a buffer with the meeting time, as I’ve found many meetings tend run over the allocated time. Finally, I dedicate about twenty minutes after calls and meetings for follow up and action items. This time is also spent taking a quick break to review the emails or calls that I missed while I was in a meeting.
Take time to ‘catch up,’ even on the weekends. A common complaint from fellow business owners: tasks taking longer than we thought. Just like meetings, this is an area that can be rectified by giving yourself a time buffer. But, even then, things happen and it seems we can never get caught up. This is where I give myself catch-up time, even on the weekends. For the record, this does not need to be an eight-hour day. It can be an hour to answer lingering emails from the week, wrap up projects that seeped into the weekend, and even, prep for the following week to ensure optimal workflow.
Bonus tips: For those of you who have staff or remote teams, it’s of value to continually find ways to delegate administrative and non-income producing tasks. This seems simple, but many of us cling to tasks we like or feel that ‘only we can do.’ Also, keep physical and virtual work space free of clutter. If the desk (or desktop) is messy, it can clutter the brain, too.
I would love to hear from you. What tips do you employ to keep yourself organized and free of overwhelm?