6 Tips for Staying on Top of Your Workload
~by Kara Masterson~
Every job’s workload requires some juggling. For instance, at a law firm, paralegals quickly realize there are hard deadlines and soft deadlines, so they have to prioritize accordingly. Most other jobs entail something similar. There is always a lot to stay on top of, and if a person isn’t organized, they can get fired.
But how can you stay on top of all your work without feeling stressed and overwhelmed?
Here are 6 tips to help you with your workload:
Large calendars are good visual reminders of the week and the month ahead. They allow you to gauge how long a project should take and when you need to get started on another one. It’s best to keep this calendar on a wall that is next to your computer monitor. It is also a good idea to avoid placing it behind the monitor or on your desk so that other items won’t detract from the view of your calendar. This is a great way to visualize everything you need to get done.
Special jobs require hard and soft deadlines. Use different colored markers or pens on your calendar or to-do list to distinguish which workload items are urgent and which ones can be put on the back burner. For instance, use red markers or pens to signify something that needs immediate attention, and use blue for research items or items that can wait. Using color coding as a visual tool for identifying your priorities can help you better manage your time.
It’s important to keep a tidy desk, but a system needs to be in place to organize mail, incoming items, outgoing items, and current workload items. Using trays or bins, such as those offered at Quantum Storage, can provide a unique solution for managing all aspects of your workload. Keeping these items separate will help you to focus on the task at hand and to distinguish urgent matters from less urgent ones.
Check emails first thing in the morning. Dedicate 30 minutes in the morning to do this. Record what you need to follow up on. For emails you were cc’d on that do not pertain to you, delete them. You may also want to decide when to take action on each email. If they’re urgent, do them quickly. Once they’re completed, decide which folder they should be assigned to. For instance, use case numbers or names to store emails that do not require further action, and keep these as a record. Staying on top of your inbox and keeping your inbox organized can help improve your efficiency.
Some office program software allows for “ticklers”. These ticklers can be used to remind you of important meetings 30 minutes ahead of time or anything else that needs attention. If this option is not available as a part of an office’s program software, use “stickies” placed on the edge of a monitor so that you can stay on top of things. Setting reminders is always a good idea.
Decide ahead of time what the following day’s schedule will be. This helps you to hit the ground running in the morning. The good thing about this system is that you won’t waste time doing unnecessary items, and if you find some downtime, you can get started with the next day’s schedule.
Overall, there is a learning curve to any kind of workload. Once you understand which supplies you will need and how the workload needs to be completed, it will be evident how to organize your desk and surrounding area.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.