As I’ve mentioned before (see here), I make a lot of lists and take regular notes. I write things down so I don’t have to remember them. It was probably all those years of journalism training, but I still can’t sit in a meeting and not take notes.
There’s a scene in Mad Men season three, in the Color Blue episode (Yes, I’m a bit behind. Please don’t spoil it for me.) that reiterated why I write things down. In the scene, Paul Kinsey had a brilliant idea. A once-in-a-lifetime brilliant idea, but he didn’t write it down and doesn’t remember it.
For me, it isn’t the piece of paper that I wrote it on that’s the most important, it is simply that I wrote it down. Because I wrote it down, I am more likely to remember it. But that’s me.
It also means if I have to share details from a meeting with a co-worker or my boss, I am more likely to remember the details and summarize it more effectively.
Using notes as a memory aid and not as a crutch is a fine line. One you’ll have to determine for yourself. But if you aren’t already using notes to your advantage, start small. You might surprise yourself.
I freely admit I’m a bit OCD. I like to have paper lists and electronic lists. I prefer to keep copies of paperwork for years just in case I might need it again some day. This has been worth it a few times, but really it just leaves a lot of clutter. Unless you have a really good system.
At home, I use pretty filing cabinets and file mail and such at least once a month if not once a week. At work, I make sure to file regularly and not let papers clutter my desk top.
I have check lists galore. Projects that need to be completed ASAP, projects that are on the back burner and projects not yet started. This way, I always have something to work on. I just make sure to check in with my supervisor regularly to make sure my list is still accurate.
Keeping a paper calendar with deadlines in my line of vision is very helpful for me to visualize how much time I have left on a project. While an electronic calendar (which I am a huge proponent of as indicated here), can send you reminders, some times the visual cue is the best way to reinforce a deadline.
I also love sticky notes. If I need to remind myself of something really quick or a point I don’t want to forget, I jot it down on a sticky note. I probably go through a stack every couple of weeks. The bright colors and fun shaped ones are my favorite.
What are some of the ways you keep organized and on task at work?