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Getting Organized Toolkit: 6 Effective Techniques to Get Organized at Work

Getting Organized Toolkit: 6 Effective Techniques to Get Organized at Work
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Getting Organized Toolkit: Become 3X More Productive

In today’s world business execution is changing rapidly and so are our lives, which really is absolutely astonishing to experience. More often than ever, we are living in an ever evolving world of what it means to get things done and how we create value. Hundreds of new tech developments are happening each day that are forcing us to always be catching up with better and much more improved ways of applying solutions. It’s always been a race of who has the right solutions for the right problems and all of us seem to be feeling more and more behind, and struggling to keep up with the fast pace of the world marching forward.

ChatGPT and all the latest AI tools and applications coming our way are forcing changes at every level and their impact will only continue to increase as the amount of information available within seconds (and how particular you can get with it) make, now, mundane tasks that have been part of our regular workflows seem unnecessary or old school. This is a serious change in the dynamics of businesses esp. those within the B2B setting. These developments bring us to a place where being content with how you get involved in your job, or how you approach your work, or how your company delivers value; will all need to continue to evolve in order to stay relevant, and to continue making meaningful impact.

In this toolkit, I am not going to teach you how to write an effective prompt on ChatGPT that gets you solutions to your most challenging problems. However, what I will lay out in this article will help you find a good structure that allows you to “find time”; to not miss the beat on new developments, to apply what’s relevant and to manage your ever increasing workload of things that keeps you overwhelmed and makes you feel unproductive after a tiring workday. You guessed it, this article is about staying organized and prepared for whatever has to come and becoming 3X more productive (*true only if you fully apply the techniques).

The techniques discussed in this article take you back to the basics that will help you find more time on your calendar, allow you to take care of non-negotiables, identify your impact role, and leave you enough time to read news articles, research new developments and and bring back implementations that apply in your company and towards your own goals.

Remember, if you feel disorganized or unproductive, your motto has to be: Increase capacity by 50%. Let’s go!

Keep reading to learn more:

Getting Organized: Techniques to Maximize Productivity and Achieve More

Technique 1:

Command and Control: Mastering the Art of Organization

Those two words mentioned above need serious mastering to unlock the art of organizing yourself and maximizing your potential and value output.

  •  What is Command:

  • Command is defined as strategic domination. What’s that got to do with anything? Well honestly, everything! If you’re not strategically dominating your choices you can’t really control outcomes. Command is ownership of your strategic efforts; what gets priority and precedence, what you tend to at a later time and what you do not allocate any time to. Those not in command often get dictated which means their behaviors are set by other leaders or managers. While in training for certain roles this is fine as you learn from other people’s experiences, but there’s little room to explore, ideate, innovate and apply yourself. This in turn, makes your role seem redundant, monotonous and takes the fun away. If you are not in command, you may point fingers as you are following plans that may fail and it becomes easy to tell the brain it’s not your fault and avoid the guilty conscience. When you put yourself in command of your actions, it brings ownership and provides you with a sense of accomplishment that builds your confidence and sets you up for success.

  •  What is Control:

  • Control is the ability to foresee outcomes and make them happen by taking charge of the events that lead to the outcome. Control allows for a measured approach that is put in place by calculations based on what needs to happen to get the desired outcome (let’s call it an OKR: Objective Key Result). Control is similar to command. However, it is different in more than a few ways. Control relies on your ability to eye a defined end result for you, your team, or your company and know what will have the most impact in getting there successfully. Based on the identifications controlling your workload, and your impact role such that there are minimum to no events that divulge you and take away your productive hours. Being in control means that you do not allow yourself and others working alongside you to sway from what drives the OKRs. Control is favored by clearly defined OKRs that are measurable, defining a trail of actions that lead to it and then, relentlessness and persistence in effort.

  •  A few examples of exercising command and control:
  •   You know your priorities
  •   You allocate your time wisely
  •   You have complete clarity on the end result
  •   You believe you have more than a winning chance at being successful

  •  Applying command and control

  • I like to say this a lot; your capacity to do stuff is unknown, you do and you realize there’s more you can handle. Every other accomplishment is only minor to what you can achieve next while being consistent with your successes and past performances. That happens because you have learned the art of being organized in solving that particular mix of challenges while being in total command and control. You have done it enough times to understand how to allocate your time, attention and energy to get a certain outcome. Because you have awareness of how to be successful in that situation, these don’t seem like major challenges the next time, and you start to believe you can get better results faster. Being in command and control allows you to increase your capacity.

    Now that we have established that, I have seen people with great skills perform below expectations and people with mediocre skills who get a lot done. How’s that? Well truly, being organized to reach goals is more so an art that can be mastered and when mastered it gets incomparable results.

Technique 2:

Impact Role: Define Your Role and Maximize Results

When talking about Control, I mentioned, ability to foresee outcomes and make them happen. Is it easier said than done?
Well, you need to know how you want to create an impact. Your impact role is a list of things that you believe are essentials when it comes to measuring success in your role.

For an Account Executive who is responsible to bring in a certain $ value of new business, their impact role can include:

  1. Managing high volume of sales appointments from the SDR team
  2. Training, coaching and educating SDRs, researchers and marketing teams to produce relevant leads
  3. Planning and executing effective sales campaigns and managing planned cadences to ensure enough opportunities get converted
  4. Forecasting pipeline of opportunities on weekly, monthly and quarterly basis to match individual and proforma targets
  5. New skills development and learning advanced sales techniques to impact conversion

Every Account Executive may choose to include different things in their impact role based on their personal situation. What matters when putting together an impact role for yourself is a good understanding of the top 4-7 things that drive the most important and critical results that define your purpose of effort and execution. Impact role components are broad and multiple projects or tasks can group under each component.

Pro Tips:

For every impact role component, assign a % of time allocation for the week within which you would focus on everything that falls under each component.

The reason to have an impact role for yourself is to help you build a “delegation or disassociation” plan that tends to everything that does not create a major impact for you. Having your impact role figured out and written down will help you identify distractions that take away time from the essentials, these need to be deprioritized or put in the right bucket (more on buckets coming later…).

To Identify and put in place your impact role and execute it, you need to identify:

  1. What end results are most wanted?
  2. What makes the most impact in planning and executing for those results to happen?
  3. What does not qualify as an item of impact?

Once you have your impact role organized, you would want to put in front of you all your live projects and engagements and sort them under the impact role components that you have defined for yourself. For anything that does not qualify under any of those categories, send them over to delegation or disassociation planning. Continue to work with your mentor, coaches or leaders to perfect your impact role. Your impact role needs validation stamps from one or more of the above people for them to align well with your and your company’s objectives.

Technique 3:

Bucket Prioritization: Categorizing and Focusing on High-Impact Tasks

Not everything needs to get done this week!

To apply bucket prioritization, you need to divide your work into buckets (segments) and allocate what percent of your time you would like to spend on tasks from each bucket. You can assign relevant names to each bucket. 3 buckets are ideal as they keep you focused, and honestly, anything that can’t go into your first 3 or 4 buckets shouldn’t be consuming your
time.

What’s important to note is that these bucket categories have to be broad enough and most items that are part of your planned work week should settle in one of these. When allocating time you would spend on tasks from each bucket, a bucket may get 50% of your time and the remaining two may each get 25%. How much time you allocate to each bucket is based on what that bucket holds for you.

Here are the 3 buckets I propose to use that generally fit everything for everyone:

Bucket Prioritization

Now that your buckets are sorted the next part gets interesting… This part requires time and effort, and most people drop off the wagon here in their search of getting organized. I have seen this bring in great value when done right.

  1. Determine for each live project that you have on your plate what bucket it belongs to, if it’s not fitting a bucket it
    gets off your list of things, doesn’t end up on your calendar and doesn’t take up your time and attention. Here’s
    where the control from technique 1 kicks in. What takes up the most thinking time is building clarity and a really
    good understanding of what contributes to, and creates impact..
  2. For each live project label it with the following two metrics:
    1. Level of Impact: what level of impact finishing that item would create? (I1, I2, I3)
    2. Level of effort: what level of effort is required to get it done? (E1, E2, E3)
    3. Each project would get one label that is a combination of the project’s impact value and effort value, like such: I1E1, I2E1, I3E1, …… I3E3.
    4. In each case 1 ranks as lowest and 3 ranks as highest.
  3. Once you have added the metric to all your projects or routine tasks you can then assign each project a total # of
    hours you would spend on the item till it gets done.
  4. Getting all your work in this view would help you capture what you need to prioritize based on;
    1. What will get done quicker and you can get it out of the way
    2. What needs more thought process or ideation
    3. What requires more work to get through the finish line
  5. Now that you have your items assigned to buckets and each bucket has a % breakdown of how much time items
    within that bucket are getting during your week; block time accordingly on your calendar for High Impact Projects
    and Low Effort Projects.

Based on the above work that you have done, as a simple observation you may find out that you can’t handle more than 2 E3s at a given time so you won’t take on more than you can realistically accomplish. You would pick items that let you create more impact and get things done faster. This would allow you to manage your wins and get stuff taken care of. You would know better what you can expect to do by when and you can assign yourself realistic timelines for completion based on the analysis.

Separately after you have finished the exercise above, identify for which projects you don’t need to be involved at all other than reviewing work from other people or you need to be involved fairly less as you initially anticipated. This is where delegation and support comes in.

Pro Tips:

  •   Organize yourself with a weekly planner or calendar
  •   Ensure you set yourself up for success
  •   Plan your next week the preceding Thursday

Technique 4:

Time blocking: Scheduling Your Day for Optimal Productivity

Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Cal Newport all use a time management technique called “time blocking” to get more done in fewer work hours. Time blocking is a time management strategy where you schedule out every part—and I mean every part—of your day. With time blocking, you’re effectively breaking the work week into bite-sized time slots where you check your email, work on projects, take a break, or even exercise. Like most time management strategies, time blocking is a way for you to reclaim your day and get a better sense of where your time is actually going. Here’s how to make time blocking work for you:

  1. Identify what you need to work on for the day
  2. Figure out when you’re most productive
  3. Group meetings if possible
  4. Schedule your time blocks
Time blocking technique for getting organized

By clarifying what type of time block you’ve scheduled, team members can feel empowered to schedule over certain blocks if necessary. You might have “Focus time” in the morning, “Personal time” during lunch, and “Do not schedule—work block” in the afternoon for some deep work.

Pro Tips:

  •   Block off personal time
  •   Allow for unexpected interruptions or work
  •   Plan for lost time
  •   Adjust as needed

Technique 5:

Deprioritization, Delegation, or Disassociation: Sorting the Important from the Urgent

We have been discussing delegation or disassociation planning multiple times through the course of this article and while this may sound exciting, this is not simply about getting rid of what’s not included in your impact role or doesn’t add up while you’re using the bucket based prioritization technique. Anything that you have been involved in and giving time and attention to, that may now seem like low priority items, still may be important or critical steps to tend to no matter how menial or uninventive these appear. This is where deprioritization, delegation or disassociation planning comes in. Here’s a simpler version of what you can use when identifying items that need to be deprioritized, delegated or you need to disassociate with;

When you have identified a mix of tasks, projects or items that you categorize as; low impact/high effort or low impact/medium effort these are the first ones you would want to approach and figure out what still falls within and outside your impact role.

Eisenhower matrix for project prioritization

When you have identified a mix of tasks, projects or items that you categorize as; low impact/high effort or low impact/medium effort these are the first ones you would want to approach and figure out what still falls within and outside your impact role.

  •  Deprioritization:

  • Items that fall under your impact role, but are identified as low or medium priority need to be deprioritized. These do not require urgent attention and lots of time being spent on them. However, since they fall under your impact role, they still need your attention. To deprioritize items or projects, try following this patter: Schedule blocks of time between now and the deadline that are set aside to divulge in low priority items

    1. Assign a final objective that defines the finish point of the project or task
    2. Assign a realistic timeline to the project that disallows it to intrude with your more urgent and important tasks
    3. Schedule blocks of time between now and the deadline that are set aside to divulge in low priority items

  •  Delegation:

  • Projects that are low importance and high or medium urgency need to be delegated. Remember delegation is a process and not simply pushing it to the next person. You need to be confident before you fully delegate that the person taking over 1) understands the objectives and importance of it, 2) knows how to do it as well or better than how you would do it and 3) continues to do it after you have left the job. When delegating bigger projects that require more time consumption, you would want to have transition plans organized and clear expectations set up with your successor and you would want to touch base regularly to identify and keep a tab on bottlenecks, roadblocks or just follow through.

  •  Disassociation:

  • Tasks or projects that have little or nothing to do with your impact role, are low on level of importance and high on time consumption need to be eliminated or replaced with technology, automation or an alternate plan of action that still solves the problem. Once such tasks are identified, cross out any contribution these have to an end result and introduce a better way of solving the problem. Identify what needs to happen for you to be able to successfully disassociate from such tasks while not hurting objectives.

    In any situations where you consider deprioritizing, delegating or disassociating from a project or task, you need to ensure you have been in command to plan alternatives. This technique is not successful unless the end results and objectives are still being met.

Technique 6:

Evaluate to Improve: Continuously Refining Your Organizational Approach

Like everything that smells of success, getting yourself organized to become 3X more productive compared to your current state of affairs is certainly possible, but requires a serious effort. Here’s a few things to help you cope once you have applied any one, multiple or all of the techniques listed above;

  1. Expectations VS deliveries: Set out clear expectations for yourself starting off and compare with your progress. Report yourself the good and the bad.
  2. What was missed and why? Understand what didn’t get done and scope out roadblocks or obstacles that kept you from getting something done. When you know what did not happen, you plan better the next time. Maybe add more time for deep work on your calendar or block out more personal space or your time allocation for mandatory meetings wasn’t accurate. Find answers to solve your problems.
  3. Improving your tracking process: Once you have a process, invest time in tools that help you track better. Look at Monday.com, Notion.ai, Trello or whatever suits your style. For me Google sheets and calendars have just worked out as good. Tools work if the process works.

Bonus Techniques: Additional Strategies for Getting Organized and Staying Productive

  1. Rule of 3: Having a massive to-do list is intimidating. Looking at a smaller list of tasks feels more doable. Make a list
    of 3 essential tasks, do those, then move on to less essential tasks.
  2. Pomodoro technique: Work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, then repeat until you’re done. You can adjust the
    lengths of each, but time blocking in general is a useful concept.
  3. 3 Minute rule: Starting is often hard, but keeping momentum is a lot easier. Tell yourself you’re only going to work
    for 3 minutes, start working, then let momentum take you to 25 minutes or more.
  4. 5 Minute rule: If something takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t schedule it for
    later. If you have a bit of free time, knock that task out so you don’t have to think about it.
  5. 80/20 rule: Roughly 80% of the output comes from roughly 20% of the input. Find those inputs and focus on them.
  6. AM/PM lists: At the start of your day, follow your to-do list. At the end of your day, review what you finished and
    create a new to-do list for the next day. This helps you wake up with clarity instead of uncertainty

Pro Tips:

  1. Meet with an agenda, make meetings quick and productive
  2. Reduce clutter from your life, browser tabs, documents, planning tools
  3. Keep things simple, answers are mostly in the basics
  4. Don’t dwell and take an eternity to make decisions
  5. Track your progress and hold yourself accountable
  6. Get your inbox to 0 unread messages
  7. Set aside time to be off of screens completely. If you can, do it daily in blocks of time that works great.

Being organized to accomplish a great deal is not a myth. People achieve great things when they can do most of the work.

People can do most of the work if they know what work has the most impact.”

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