If you – like so many other people – have a day job, a side hustle, and 50 other things on your plate, it is essential to be organized and on top of things. As someone who is always busy, I’ve come up with six organization hacks to help me handle my packed schedule, and I want to share them with you.
Everyone is different, and because of that, some of these tips may be beneficial to you and some may not. This is just my way of doing things, but I encourage you to test these tactics out to see if they meet your needs.
1. Make a Daily To-Do List
This is a non-negotiable step for me every single day. Truth be told, if I don’t write something down, I will most likely forget to do it. Plus, any Type-A personality can tell you how great it feels to cross an item off your to-do list!
I suggest getting yourself a notebook that fits in your purse or pocket – something that is easy to carry around with you. This will allow you to keep all your notes in one easily accessible place and keep you from misplacing your valuable to-do list.
2. Keep an Electronic Calendar
I use Google Calendar, which has the added benefit of integrating with my Gmail account, but there are other great calendar apps out there, too, such as Calendly.
When you add an event to your electronic calendar, you will usually have the option to set reminders for yourself and invite guests so that the event shows up on their calendars, too. This is especially helpful for meetings involving multiple people because it ensures that everyone is on the same page and has the same information. By keeping an electronic calendar, you also ensure that you can easily access the details of your schedule from various locations (phone, computer, etc.), which means you’ll always know what’s coming up, no matter where you are.
3. Write Emails the Night Before so You Have Them Ready to Send First Thing in the Morning
This is one of my most recent organization hacks. I try not to work on nights and weekends, and I set clear boundaries with my clients so they have realistic expectations for when they can contact me. However, if I know I have a busy day coming up, I will often draft emails the night before and leave them in my outbox so I can simply click “send” the next morning without much hassle. This does require you to be proactive and put some work in outside of regular business hours, but when you’re extremely busy in the morning, this can help you get on top of things and maintain organization throughout the day.
You should also know that there are apps like Boomerang that let you schedule emails ahead of time. However, I personally like to go over my emails again before sending them, which is why I do it manually.
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4. Automate When You Can
Thanks to technology, there’s a lot we can automate. While putting in the effort is important, a busy schedule calls for working smarter, not harder. Take advantage of automation whenever you can. We’re all accustomed to the out-of-office email, but you can take automation a step further by leveraging it for your social media posts, newsletters, etc.
For social media, my favorite tool is Hootsuite because you can schedule posts on various social media accounts within one platform. Want to make sure you’re staying relevant on LinkedIn? Gather some articles that interest you, and set them to share at various times throughout the week! The same process can be done with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites.
MailChimp is a great tool for automating mass emails. If I’m going to be out of the office, I’ll often write my newsletter beforehand and set it to send out at a specific time so I don’t have to worry about it.
Automation isn’t great for everything, but for small tasks that don’t require you to be sitting there, you might as well take advantage of it!
5. Be Proactive and Prep for Future Work
Whenever I am ahead of schedule with my tasks, I always try to get some work done for the future. For example, if I have some extra time one day, I’ll brainstorm or start writing future blog posts or take some pictures to keep on hand for when I may need them. It’s always better to be proactive than to be scrambling at the last minute. When you’re in one of those periods when it seems there just aren’t enough hours in the day, your proactivity will really come in hand. If you want to stay organized and on top of your busy schedule, it’s very important to grasp the concept of putting in the work now to reap the benefits later.
6. File Documents in the Cloud for Easy Access
I use Google Drive, but any cloud storage system should work. Upload documents and information that you may need to keep on hand, such as company logos and documents you’re currently working on. Create folders for different information and simply drop stuff in them as you go.
My computer was stolen in December, and using a cloud storage system is what saved me. I had all my important documents, pictures, and information stored and organized, so it made setting up a new computer really easy. It also kept me from losing everything I was working on!
I always suggest that people keep a folder specifically for job information, and when you receive your job description as you’re hired on, drop it into this folder. If you want to be really on top of things, you can update this folder as your responsibilities change. Keeping a folder with your job information will help you out immensely when it’s time to update your resume.
So there you have it – six organization hacks for handling a busy schedule. Staying on top of everything on your plate isn’t easy, and it definitely isn’t always fun, but it is possible! Once you establish a routine, staying organized is easy.
Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer and the founder of Write Styles.