How to organize your workload after the new year

Happy New Year!

The turning of the calendar is the perfect opportunity to once again set lofty goals to accomplish bigger and better things and take your personal and professional life to new levels of efficiency and general greatness.

But beware: There are plenty of pitfalls waiting to trip up even the best-intentioned efforts to do better.

Statistic Brain tells us that 27 percent of resolutions are broken by the end of the first week of January and another 31 percent by the second week. It’s a good guess that most will be abandoned by Groundhog Day.

They seem to fail for many reasons: Fast Company suggests it’s because we try to do everything at once and depend on our emotions to keep us motivated. Instead, the article suggests, we should focus on changing a habit.

Entrepreneur suggests that some people set their goals too high or have too many, so it’s natural for some, or even all, of them to crash and burn.

For instance, declaring, “I’m going to run 10 miles every day and do my first marathon,” is just asking for trouble the minute it rains.

There are professional parallels. Overhauling your filing system. Making bigger sales. Making 20 new business contacts a week. Turning off the computer and going out on more calls. Great ideas that seem pretty much doomed before you get out of the gate.

Think better, slightly different

But what if you can find ways to make your resolutions actually happen?

Just as resolution experts suggest toning down your personal goals to something more reasonable and achievable (exercise 10 minutes three days a week vs. jog every single morning), try looking for easier steps to improve your organization.                                                               

Instead of “throw the old filing system out and adopt a new one,” how about looking for ways to improve your overall organization as it relates to something you’re already doing?

Try some of these suggestions:

Better forms. Let’s start with what we at JotForm do well, which is offer an assortment of templates to do everything from register guests for an event to survey customers. These online forms are easy to create and can be used for just about any business need. They also can be customized with your look, logo, and voice, appealing to both existing and potential customers. Last but not least, the forms can easily be integrated with various applications, including payment methods or your CRM.

Organize your time. Even if you feel like every second of your workday is taken up with tasks, would there be benefits in pausing more often to assess what you’re working on and what you want to accomplish? Take a certain amount of time to prioritize your workload. This could be 30 minutes a day or maybe an hour a week to go through your in-box to figure out what’s most important, what can wait, what can be ignored, and what can be delegated. It helps if this “organization” time involves turning off email and putting the phone aside so neither will distract.

Make lots of lists. Hard copies may get lost or buried, but you can access an online list anywhere through your phone or other electronic gadgets. This way you can keep up on your tasks at any time, from any place. It’s also easy to move items or priorities around on an electronic list.

Use more color. Inc. suggests separating your projects into electronic or physical folders that are different colors. They can be sorted by category, urgency, project team, or any number of other ways. This will make it easier to find what you need.

Have the right supplies. Focus on what you need to accomplish your most basic task or tasks. Though it can be tempting to walk down the aisles at the office supply store and dream of what you can do with some of those goodies, you may need just a few basic items to save you some time and improve your efficiency — for example, a multicolored pen for making notations/edits in different colors or online tools and plug-ins that help to improve your processes. It can be equally as challenging to tell yourself, “I could make use of this in the future” instead of “This will fix what I’m doing.”

If your goal for 2019 is to improve what you do, there are some useful tools out there that will help. And you don’t even have to try too hard.

Chad is VP of Marketing and Communications at JotForm. He’s also a frequent contributor to various tech and business publications, and an absolute wizard with a Vitamix. He holds a master’s degree in communication and resides with his wife and cats in Oakland, California. You can reach Chad through his contact form.

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