Tuesday, November 17, 2015

3 Steps to Turn Holiday Downtime into Organized Success

Can you believe it is November already? Time flies when you’re having fun…or just really busy. Christmas music is starting to play (way too early in my opinion), families are on their way into town, office parties are being planned and everyone seems to slow down a little. It can be tempting to enjoy the distractions and slow your work mind down a little, too.

However, in the PR world, I’ve found using that little bit of extra down time to get organized can really pay off when the New Year rolls in and client expectations kick into high gear again. Organization is a key element to professionalism, responsibility and success. I’d estimate 90% of people at least try to organize some part of their life, even if it only happens once or twice year. Often, we get so busy at work throughout the year that all of those organization systems we developed back in January have been completely ignored by now.

If you’d like to develop some organization strategies that are easy to keep, now is the perfect time. Follow these three steps and you will be sure to have an organized and successful 2016:

Step 1. Purge & Clean
Start by getting rid of clutter. Throw out/recycle any papers laying around that you don’t need. Move items from your physical desktop that you don’t use daily to a desk drawer. Having a larger, clean working space can clear your mind, too.

Then move on to your digital workspace. File away e-mails you don’t need, and organize those folders that have been pushed to the corner of your screen for the last six months. You will decrease the time it takes you to find important items while freeing up memory so your processor runs faster. It’s a win-win for you and your computer.

If you want to go the extra mile, start thinking about what programs you’d like to kick off in January. Jot down any notes you may have, or start a new folder on your desktop to file away resources. That way, when you get back in the office, you are already two steps ahead of your clients and can present them with fresh ideas before they can say “Happy New Year.”

Step 2. Find Your Best Reminder System
I watch many young professionals try to manage the influx of new responsibilities and assignments they receive each day, and many of them forget about deliverables because they simply didn’t log it anywhere. Or, they noted it somewhere they never look.

Everyone is unique in how they like their reminders. For me, I couldn’t function without hand written lists. Lists keep me on track and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m able to cross things off of them. But, if you won’t look at your list each day, that technique will be worthless to you.

One of the most critical elements to staying organized is making your systems work with the habits you’ve already established. You wouldn’t keep your trash can in a corner of the office you never visit, right? I bet you keep it next to or under your desk. Take some time over the next few weeks to figure out what items you look at multiple times throughout the day. This could be your smartphone, Outlook calendar, notebook or even a whiteboard. Try adding assignments or reminders there. If you end up not seeing the list frequently enough, then try something else.

Once you find the right system to suit your habits, you’re going to be so much more efficient. You’ll probably also feel so much happier knowing you’re on top of all your deliverables.

Step 3. Set up Reminders for January 1st Now
Is it just me, or does Holiday break almost make us completely forget about what we were doing on December 23? It can be very easy to shut down your computer on that last day before the Holidays and forget all about the looming deadlines you have to meet on your first day back. Trust me, coming back to the office in January that way is a harsh reality check you want to avoid.

Instead of scrambling through a New Year’s Eve hangover, prepare for January 1st now. As you get closer to your Holiday break, use that reminder system you developed in Step 2 to create a Top 5 list of things you need to do (or remember) when you get back to the office. That way you already know the first items you need to accomplish when you return to the office and your first morning back will be a breeze.

Hopefully these three suggestions will help you get organized and create a strong foundation for success in 2016. But, don’t forget to have a little fun, too! Just make sure there are no photographers at your Holiday party.

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