My Top 5 Hacks for Organizing…Everything

Like most of us, you’re a busy professional who can use help managing your hectic workload. When you can’t afford to hire an assistant, having helpful tricks and shortcuts that make our lives simpler is invaluable.

But with so many available tools and strategies, where do you turn for a solution? This post is here to help you out!

You’ll never again have to stress about searching for advice, methods, or tools. I’ve rounded up my top five organization and productivity hacks gathered from various sources, so you don’t have to. These tips and tricks are here to access right at your fingertips:

  1.  Hack: Julie Morgenstern’s The 4 D’s  

What is it? The 4 D’s are decision points you can make quickly and easily for tasks that come your way during the work day. They stand for Delete, Delay, Delegate, or Diminish. You can take these approaches to effectively manage your workload before you become overwhelmed or unsure how to prioritize best.

When should you use it? The 4 D’sis an excellent framework for handling anything—work tasks, personal projects, deadlines. Check out the podcast How to Be Awesome at Your Job to learn more.

2. Hack: Analyze, Strategize, Attack

What is it?  Also from Julie Morgenstern, this hack is a three-step process for managing time, from her book Time Management from the Inside Out.

When should you use it? If you feel unbalanced, overwhelmed, or overworked, this process can help by assessing the problem, creating a plan, and executing it. Morgenstern offers insightful questions to ask yourself or a colleague needing a refocus: What do you need to spend more time on? What is the ideal block of time to work on this? What is the unit of time, and what’s the optimal time to work on it?

3. Hack: 3-2-1

What is it? This popular education technique is a great way to spark creativity and critical thinking in yourself, too. It also helps you organize your thoughts to make a significant impact. Say you just finished reading a book and want to share your thoughts. With the 3-2-1 tool, pick out three takeaways from the book, two prominent points made by the author or memorable quotes, and one lingering question. This strategy can be adapted and modified for various uses; its versatility makes it a helpful hack!

When should you use it? 3-2-1 is a great way to frame your thinking around a topic or piece of literature, as a prompt after an activity or to debrief a task.

4.Hack: OHIO Principle: Only Handle It Once

What is it? Many are guilty of starting a new project before finishing the old one. This can lead to more work and stress in the long run. A better approach is to work from start to finish — OHIO.

When should you use it? With emails, projects, and any task demanding your attention. Make your decision and get it done so you don’t have to come back to it. Robert Pozen, a lecturer at Harvard Business School, has said, “When you read an e-mail, decide whether or not to reply to it, and if you need to reply, do so right then and there.” In other words, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can delete today. “I have found that about 80 percent of all e-mails, whether internal or external, do not require a response,” Pozen said.

5. The Eisenhower Box

What is it? Attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, the Eisenhower box consists of four quadrants: Do, Decide, Delegate, and Delete. It handles tasks according to importance and urgency. For example, an email from your boss with an important assignment due tomorrow is important and urgent: your action plan should be “do it now.”

When should you use it? As tasks come across your desk during the workday, use this decision matrix tool to complete work strategically.

Here is an example of a completed Eisenhower Box:  

Still looking for ways to increase your productivity? The sky’s the limit when it comes to hacks. Check out James Clear’s Productivity Guide, an offshoot of his book Atomic Habits.

Kima Tozay is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and subject matter expert on Counseling and Advocacy programs in her role at Navy Fleet & Family Support Center, Everett, Washington. Her government career spans more than 15 years, starting in the Navy. Kima completed her Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Washington and has held positions with the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) and the Army. Kima’s greatest career accomplishment is receiving the Federal Employee of the Quarter Award for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. She earned an Executive Leadership Certificate from Graduate School, USA. You can connect with Kima on LinkedIn.

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