Put It on Autopilot

So much to do, so little time to do it. That’s business, right?

We could work 24 hours a day if we let ourselves. There’s always something else to do.

What if you’re looking to see more of life beyond your desk and computer screen, though?

It’s time, then, to automate and streamline a few things…

  1. Use your calendar. Schedule all that can be scheduled. Don’t take meetings on the fly. Follow a basic routine and honor the boundaries you’ve set for your time such as stepping away from the business and into family time at a certain point in the day. It’s much easier to prioritize your work (and your life) when you’ve got control over what’s on your plate.
  2. Organize incoming emails. Utilize whatever tools are provided by your email client to the fullest. If you use Outlook, make use of flags and rules. You can set things up so that emails go straight into particular folders. It’s much easier (and less overwhelming) to sort through and prioritize messages when they’re already organized for you.
  3. Automate your bills. If you have recurring bills each month, set them up on autopay. Whenever possible, pay annually—you may even save a chunk of change that way as well. For other bills, take advantage of the ease and convenience of online Bill Pay, which comes with most checking accounts these days. It will save you the steps and cost of writing checks, addressing envelopes and paying for stamps.
  4. Use an RSS reader. Blog-reading is a great way to expand your business knowledge and keep up with your target market and industry info (not to mention a nice distraction when you need a mental break now and then). But it can also easily turn into a full-time job trying to keep up with all of them. Instead, use an RSS reader to organize all of your blog reading (my favorite is NewsBlur). You can create categories or sort blogs by importance. Tip: Schedule your blog reading into your routine so that you don’t miss a thing, but aren’t being wasteful with your time and energy reserves.
  5. Set your listserv subscriptions to digest mode. Instead of a constant incoming stream of (often irrelevant) messages that you have to spend time deleting, elect digest mode instead. You’ll save time and the threads will come to you already organized. You can then click on just those conversations you’re interested and ignore the rest.
  6. Use a tickler file. This is a system where you have 31 folders representing all the possible days in a month. This is a great way to organize to-do’s and clear paper clutter from your desk. This will free your mind from worrying about anything that isn’t in that particular day’s folder. Weren’t able to take care of something that day? No problem; simply move it forward to the next appropriate day’s folder. TIP: You can do this in your email client as well. Simply set up folders for each day of the week and move messages and to-dos around accordingly.

© Copyright 2009 by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links intact.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like your photo to appear next to your post, be sure to get your gravatar here.

Please copy the string H7juhH to the field below: