Are you an organized person? If you would have asked me this question before the pandemic, I would have emphatically said yes. My work requires me to be very organized, as there are a lot of moving parts and I have to follow a paper trail. But adjusting to my role from home took some time. I found a small workspace in my apartment, had the opportunity to stop by the office to grab a few things, and fell into a new routine. While we’re almost eight months into the pandemic, I still find myself making changes to how I stay organized. Here are some tips that could help you.
Organizing a Digital Calendar
Now that most of my interactions are over Zoom or other video conferencing applications, I find myself relying 100% on my digital calendar to tell me where I need to be. I used to love writing my days and to-do lists in a paper planner, but I realized that I cannot duplicate my efforts. I also time block to help manage my time better on projects and tasks. If it’s not on my digital calendar, it’s not happening. Working from home has provided me a more flexible schedule but a more flexible schedule requires more organization. I now use my paper planners to journal or free-write ideas.
Prior to the pandemic, I used to keep our metrics on Google spreadsheets. It was helpful to keep track of our work, and we could easily edit it together. During the pandemic, I have realized the importance of clean and effective spreadsheets. Spreadsheets need routine maintenance. I’ve deleted a number of spreadsheets that were no longer needed and added a few to track different projects. Spreadsheets have become helpful measures of our progress. As they say, numbers do not lie.
At any given moment, my mind goes in and out of thoughts. What should I meal prep this week? Did I submit that assignment? I need more coffee and creamer. Did I follow up with my supervisor on that project from last week? A new tip of mine has been to write down any thoughts that are fluttering around my head on a list-making app. There are so many different kinds – Trello, To Do, Google Keep, etc.
Once something pops in my head, I’ve gotten used to adding them to a list-making app on my phone so I can check off later. I find it’s easier to take the thought out of my head so there’s less mental clutter. Find the list-making app for you. There are so many out there!
Organized Paper Trail
I have to admit, I still do not have this system down perfectly, but it works for me. My job requires a lot of paper to be filed because we are nearing the end of the administration. I brought home files and documents which no longer have a file cabinet. To stay organized, I’ve added detailed notes on each file and have created makeshift folders as if they were in a file cabinet. I have also added them to a spreadsheet to track progress. These notes and tracking will help me maintain their status until they’re filed away indefinitely.
- Adopt the inbox zero method – archive or triage your e-mails to different folders
- Stick to your routine – Organization is a habit, so stick to ways that will easily keep you on top of things
- Invest in supplies – Whether it is sticky notes, highlighters, paper clips, your favorite pens, etc.
- Take breaks! – Go on a walk or make the time for lunch (not a working lunch). Your work will never end so schedule time for self-care throughout the day.
How do you keep organized during the pandemic? Share your tips in the comments below.
You may also be interested in GovLoop’s Organizing Your Day in the Digital Age or The Top Trello Tips for Beginners to Boost Productivity.
Maribel Castañeda currently serves at the pleasure of Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam as the Director of Appointments in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office. She facilitates the appointment process for over 300 state boards and commissions or about 800 appointments each year. She bridges communication between constituents, state agencies, Governor’s Cabinet and organizations who want to share a voice in their government. Her vision is to have each board and commission reflect the Virginia that exists today. Maribel also serves as the Director of Latino Outreach connecting the Hispanic and Latino community to resources and services.