I used to think I could remember everything I had done when I first started working…, hilarious!
Even things that needed to be pended, as they were not yet 100% complete. I would file things, emails, papers, and then, I would forget about them! I would forget, that is until a senior would come and ask me days or weeks later about that task. We have all had that feeling of, the blank stare, then slowly the brain starts to tick over, then recalling the work, then realising this is the first time you have thought of it since then, dread!
Preferably a lesson best not repeated.
Do you keep an iron-clad pending system?
If not, you should. It’s so important to not let things fall through the cracks, and the only way is to have a pending system, or various timesaving, well-functioning systems in place, at all times.
This is a big contributor in being able to manage yourself and being organised.
Ideas if you struggle with pending:
- Don’t move an email to a side folder if you need to reply to it still.
- If you have replied to an email and need a response, you can file it, but first set a task reminder to follow up in x amount of days.
- Set follow-up tasks when you delegate work too. Or assign tasks with reminders and CC yourself.
- If you have sent out manual letters or bulk email letters, set a task reminder of the date sent and the date for follow up.
- Set up calendar appointments for work that you need to do in particular timeslots. Use different colours for levels of urgency or importance.
- Have a pending tray on your desk. Go through it at least twice per week and action.
- Only keep stuff on your desk that you are working on now.
- Don’t procrastinate. Pick it up, do it, file it away. Don’t keep it on your desk for months. Then it’s not important, bin it.
- Once you have worked on something, put it away. Don’t keep unnecessary paperwork and files on your desk. Avoid clutter.
- Keep a manual diary of telephone conversations, meeting discussions and to do lists. (not my first option, a manual diary is just more clutter – plus, it means manually recapturing each line item that you have not done the day before, which is a time waster)
- Make your email system your best friend. Utilise the calendar, the task list, the auto-reminders and pop-ups. This is what the system is made for.
- My personal preference is to red flag emails as soon as they are sent. Once the matter is resolved, then tick the red flag to mark it as done. Every couple of weeks, go through all outstanding red flag emails and resend to follow up. Mark the initial red flag with a tick and mark the newly sent email with a red flag, so you don’t duplicate items.
- Be careful of using too many pending systems at the same time, again you will forget things in the confusion.
- Use one of the snipping tools available online or with some software packages to grab shots of things you need to remember and paste them in tasks and appointments so you don’t have to hunt for things afterwards.
- Don’t keep little paper notes stuck up all over the sides of your screen and the walls around you. This is clutter and is subconsciously cluttering your thoughts too. Keep all notes in a look-up in your tasks, under a heading like ‘FYI’, without due dates.
- Use desk trays, make sure each tray is labelled and used correctly. File as often as time allows, but not less than monthly.
- Send yourself emails to remind you about information or a discussion with someone in passing, that you may need to recall later on.
- When you file papers, date them in pencil, as well as any little notes about what you did with this paper to resolve it before being able to file it. Guaranteed you won’t remember months or years later without those notes.
- Keep a pending file, if you need to print out paperwork. File into destination file once the matter is resolved. (We are all about paper saving, don’t print if you don’t have to!)
- Utilise the free online websites, or paid for software packages that are out there to assist you with better organising yourself.
It is only human that we all forget something, now and then, but it doesn’t need to become a bad habit. There are always ways and means of becoming more organised.
Take the time each day so that you are not left with hours of backlog every few months. Be proactive. Follow up before your supervisor follows up with you and be the first to give them feedback too.
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