For some of us, being productive and organised doesn’t always come naturally. I’m the first to admit that I can be something of a scatterbrain (understatement of the year, it’s honestly pretty tough to hide), so you can imagine the challenges I face daily when running my own business.
It can be frustrating and upsetting. The more flustered you get, the harder it can be to sort the thoughts in your brain. But being disorganised isn’t a luxury I have in my job as a virtual assistant. Aside from competing deadlines, there’s just the expectation that an admin should be organised – and rightly so!
I know I’m not alone in my struggle, so I thought I’d share a few quick and effortless tips on how to be a productive and organised scatterbrain!
Confidence Makes You Productive
Being a scatterbrain doesn’t mean you’re less capable than anyone else – your brain is just wired a bit differently. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to drag yourself down when you get frustrated or something doesn’t go quite right.
Confidence can be the biggest stumbling block – sometimes it’s hard to get past all that nagging self-doubt to get some clarity.
My advice: Don’t compare yourself to others! We’re all very different, that’s why the world is still overflowing with innovations. We all have good and bad days, and everybody stumbles now and then – some people are just exceptionally good at hiding it!
Every morning, remind yourself with a positive affirmation that you’re great at what you do:
“I am intelligent and capable. I know my job and am good at what I do. Today will be a great day!”
Control Your Environment
Ok, I know this one has its limits in the workplace. I’m not saying bring a hammock in, sit in your jocks, and only work when you want to. What we’re aiming for here is comfort and focus.
Why comfort? Well, I don’t know about you, and maybe this is my own weird quirk, but I find that if I have a few things at my desk like my Garfield mug and a family photo, then I have what I guess are ‘refocussing tools’. When things feel like they’re escaping me, I have my little bits of happiness that help me smile and relax so I can get into the zone again.
As for focus – turn your personal phone to silent and tuck it away. Get rid of distractions!
And no, I’m sorry, but your boss and clients aren’t considered distractions.
Just … Pause.
I think sometimes my biggest hurdle is getting my brain to settle a bit. When you get flustered, it can be tough to sort through the mess!
Trust me when I say, you’ll lose LESS time if you just pause for a moment. Close your eyes and breathe slowly, then think about what it is you need to achieve and map out how you will get there.
If you spend the day wrestling with your brain instead of working with it, you’ll just waste a ton of valuable time.
I mean … obviously. But at work, it’s incredibly essential.
I am, in my natural state, a bit of a slob. My workstation, however, is a whole other story. Everything has its place because I need to efficiently compensate for that ‘natural state’ I mentioned, which can tend to hold the reins.
Being able to find things easily will make life a whole lot easier and will help you project a professional appearance to those around you, I don’t know about you, but feeling professional gives me confidence and BANG, there’s that clarity!
Yep, Even Your Emails
I think an important aspect of work to keep organised, that is quite often neglected, is email. How often have you gone looking for an email and can’t find it, mostly because your inbox has 12,349 emails in it?
I have folders for everything. There is nothing in my inbox that isn’t on my “to do” list. As soon as something is completed, it gets shuffled to its folder for archiving. That makes it much easier to find emails and gives a better visual cue of what you need to respond to and how your workload is going.
I remember I used to giggle at my Nan, who wrote notes down when she spoke to people on the phone. All the important details were scribbled on scraps of paper, receipts, and anything else she could get her hands on.
It seemed a bit silly at the time, but honestly, since then I’ve decided she was a danged genius!
Now on my desk I have a notebook to write down EVERYTHING and an organiser to take with me when I meet with clients!
My husband scoffs, but yes, I also have a notebook in my handbag. I find that especially handy when a thought strikes me at some ridiculous moment in the middle of grocery shopping. I write it down for later – super organised! I also use my phone’s notes app if the thought is brief enough.
When I am working on something for a client, if I think something is significant to report about or I want to track my actions, I write it down. That way I can remember things more clearly and the client gets a concise report.
Planning is Essential
You’ll actually SAVE time by taking the time to plan your work days. Rather than trying to figure out in your head, as you go, what tasks are important and what you need to do next, write yourself some ‘visual cues’.
This is a huge part of my own strategy – I have surrounded myself in planning aids:
- Sticky notes: for immediately urgent reminders (and shopping lists!)
- A magnetic whiteboard: for non-urgent prompts such as my fees list and a list of regular repeat tasks I do for clients
- A paper planner: I find this an easier way to do a “brain dump” than on a computer. Get it all on paper first, THEN transfer it over.
- An online workflow tool: I use Trello because it’s an incredibly simple list-style system for tracking what jobs I need to do, their priority, and any notes relating to each task. And it’s free!
- A paper diary: With this right in front of me as a visual prompt, I find I’m more likely to accurately note down start and finish times for tasks than when I use an app.
- An online calendar: This one is to make sure I get to appointments on time!
Sounds like overkill but it’s a well-oiled machine because every item has its specific purpose and each serves as a visual cue!
To help you with your planning, here’s a Free Printable Weekly Planner!
Do your best but be kind to yourself – take time out for a quick coffee and chat in the tea room. We work to live, not live to work! The more you enjoy your work, the more focussed and productive you’ll be!