I’m mildly OCD. I say this with no disrespect to people who struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder every day; folks who can’t leave the house without performing a ritual or those who get stuck in a cycle of arranging their pencils on their desks.
My compulsion is that need to feel organized. Few work tasks exist that I can accomplish without first putting it on a list or recording it in some way. Since my job involves lots of contact information (emails, phone numbers, social media handles, you get it) and perhaps the last communication I sent to someone, I need to transcribe all that, too.
I can spend the better part of a morning just updating excel spreadsheets, reminders and notes, before actually getting down to business. That can kill my productivity and eat the hours in my day. The key is to make it part of my ongoing routine.
Here are three ways I keep myself organized:
- Google Docs – For any PR person, a good list is priceless. But lists only get good through curation, and so I make sure that I keep everything current on a daily basis. Every scrap of info goes in there – email addresses, mobile numbers, twitter feeds, birthdays, you name it. When I need to reach out to someone, it’s there – and if it’s not, I hunt it down and record it. (I also put all this into my address book, which I update relentlessly.) I recently made the jump from Excel to Sheets, which makes it easy to also share information with co-workers and family members. And it keeps everything updated from wherever you are, and easier than keeping something in Dropbox, which I still love for photos and media.
- Apple Reminders – Ever since I saw that episode of Modern Family shot entirely on Apple devices and watched Julie Bowen’s character put things into her reminder list as she screamed at her family, I have been hooked on the app. I update it CONSTANTLY and make sure it’s dinging away at me at all hours to get me motivated and see things through to completion. There’s nothing more satisfying than clicking that little “done” button!
- Evernote – I have all but stopped taking handwritten notes in journals. My hands don’t write as fast or as neatly as I can type, it’s too easy to give up in the middle of a written idea or scribble out something that doesn’t look right on the page. Besides, all those notes still need to be transcribed into the computer to be acted upon. (I know I can take a photo of it and import it, but who has that kind of time?) At every meeting, I apologize for opening my computer and then do so and happily click to open a new note. I haven’t had any complaints. I also make sure to make eye contact repeatedly throughout the meeting and engage with thoughtful questions, to make sure people know I am not just surfing Facebook. So far, so good.
Honorable mention: Grammarly, the spell checking app. If you write for a living and don’t know what it is, just get it. Amazing tool.
What are your favorite organizational tools? Leave a comment below.