I was recently afforded the opportunity to stop and take a breath. This breath was the result of both an opportunity to reflect outside of the office and a personnel change in the office which resulted in what I’m finding to be the most precious resource of all, time.

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As I was reflecting on the past year, and wondering where it had gone, I realized that one of the keys to making it successful was the fact that I consciously sat down and re-adjusted my own personal time management plan and organizational system—at multiple different points in time. This is a task that I’ve been somewhat unconsciously doing, but a task that I will now try to be more consciously focused on in the future, given the benefits it afforded me.

One time it was the result of feeling completely overwhelmed, another it was due to a new company integration that required additional time, and another it was because of a change in the days of some of my daughters’ activities.

Given the speed at which life comes at us now, stepping back and taking a moment to reset might be more critical than ever. For me, it has been a way to alleviate stress and ensure I’m able to balance the demands of my time appropriately. Knowing the only thing certain in the world is change, we have to be ready to adapt to it.

Given the speed at which life comes at us now, stepping back and taking a moment to reset might be more critical than ever.

This doesn’t need to be extensive, even just a half hour of focused time to think about how you want to record action items and flag emails, or even scheduling time to knock out tasks could prove to be beneficial. Currently, I am using a combination of Wunderlist, Outlook calendar, and Outlook follow-up flags to keep myself organized. This represents an evolution from Outlook tasks and Evernote (in terms of a task manager) in the past year.

Aside from the examples I mentioned, below are some examples of life changes that might prove to be a beneficial time for you to sit down and do a complete re-evaluation of your system and/or schedule:

  • Changing jobs or taking on new responsibilities
  • Being assigned to a new project that meets at a different day and time than your previous project
  • Shifting from being in the office to working from home
  • Setting a new personal goal that you want prioritize and achieve

These moments in time should be cues to re-evaluate your system and determine what adjustments you need to make in order to be most effective and complete the expectations of you in your job. During these times, it may be helpful to identify things like the following, which will allow you to structure a system to be most productive:

  • The number of actionable emails you are receiving on a daily basis
  • Team or organizational expectations on email replies
  • The number of desk visits resulting in action items
  • The number of routine tasks that are part of your week or month
  • The number of hours you find yourself in meetings during a work day versus the amount of time spent at your desk
  • The typical working hours of your colleagues or clients

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If you don’t identify these cues, staying in your cadence and identifying points of stress as described in my previous post could help you catch this as well.

The key is not to get discouraged if it takes you some time to fine-tune the system based on your new routine!

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