This one’s for Allie (and anyone else making a New Year’s Resolution to get more organized or to try and find some good time-savers). Here are my top 5 tips (plus one for good measure) for getting your act together:
(1) Maintain 1 calendar — put both work and non-work appointments on it. Otherwise, well, you know what will happen. Use one that you can sync with your significant other (so you can just send an email to put an event on his/her calendar). If necessary, put a hand-written monthly calendar up in your kitchen at home so that the rest of the family (i.e. your kids) are aware of things that affect them. Update this regularly. If you have a family, sit down with all of the adults or people who think they are adults and go over the week ahead — everything runs much smoother if everyone is on the same page from the outset.
(2) Read and re-read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s an amazing organizational program. Truly, life-changing. It works best if you can do a wholesale overhaul of your environment, but you can pick and choose certain pieces to make a pretty big difference regardless. My favorite — setting up paper calendar files — with tabs for each month — at work and at home. And the book makes a good last-minute gift too!
(3) Get control over your Inbox. Try and keep no more than 25 emails in there at one time. I (try to) subscribe to David Allen’s advice to respond immediately to any email that can be dealt with in 2 minutes or less. Otherwise, file it immediately in an electronic folder and/or put it down on your to-do list.
(4) Clean your desk before you go home at night. Include “real” cleaning (i.e. Clorox wipes) regularly. What a nice treat to come to work to a clean, nice-smelling office.
(5) We all love those desk piles, but try and keep on your desk only very active matters. Everything else should either be filed away for good or put somewhere away but within easy reach.
(6) Put everything that you need to bring to work either by the door or in your work bag before you go to bed. Otherwise, I assure you, you will forget it. If you have kids, make their lunches and pack their school bags the night before. It makes mornings go MUCH smoother.
Believe me, I’m no organizational genius. But I’m probably more organized than your average lawyer. I blame it all on my mother. In Yiddish, we call that giving one’s parent naches.