One of the ways you can massively increase your productivity and be more organised is to follow a simple rule – do your future self a favour.
The key principle here is to think about what you can do now to save yourself time later.
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Here’s a simple example: normally we don’t give much thought to the subject line of an email. Instead of writing something random, think about what you’d search for later to find this email again. You can then write a subject that’s more meaningful and easier to find. This will save you time as the email will be easier to find and you’ll cut down on the time you take to find emails. Because I send the same email to lots of people, I personalise the subject line with the person’s name to make it easier to find later on.
This idea builds on top of what I’ve talked about on the blog before; being organised is a mindset. The key here is you need discipline in the moment to put some extra effort into being organised. It’s easier to be lazy. But by proactive now, you’re making an investment into your future efficiency.Do your future self a favour. Put in some effort now and invest in your future productivity.Click To Tweet
Another example is how I manage client work. I’m usually juggling a few dozen clients at once. And I’m working on different things and have different action items for each person. One of the ways I do my future self a favour is to write notes at the end of a consulting call to record what we talked about and what the next steps are. Then, when I’m reconnecting with the client a week later, I can revisit my previous notes and easily pick up where we left off.
NOTE: I do this in Asana so that my notes are logged on the actual task that was completed.
Doing this takes discipline. It takes effort. But it means I’m more organised and more efficient later on.
Here are some other examples to get you thinking:
- Document management – Instead of saving files to your desktop and leaving the default name, make sure you rename files with a consistent naming convention e.g. person name, dates and tags to neatly organise your files into folders. This will make it easier to search for and find information later on.
- Meeting notes – Keep notes (e.g in Asana or Evernote) to record what you talked about and action items so you know who’s doing what. Then the next time you meet you can easily review the action items from the last meeting.
- Sales calls – Keep notes of what you talk about so that when you follow up with a prospect later, you are reminded of their intention and goals. I do this using Pipedrive (affiliate link) and because I’m managing 20-30 leads at once, I have to keep good notes to ensure I remember the details of everyone I’m in conversations with.
- Exam and assignment deadlines – If you’re a student, as well as taking good class notes, keep a list of all your assignment and exam due dates. Add them to your calendar as soon as you get them so you don’t need to go digging through emails or documents later on.
- Follow-ups – Sometimes you might email someone with a request. But if they don’t get back to you, it’s good to have a reminder to follow up (otherwise you risk forgetting and weeks going by with nothing getting done). I do this with clients all the time. Even though I’m waiting on people to get back to me with feedback, I set a follow-up reminder to make sure I’m reminded if I don’t hear from them.
- Log your tasks – One of the benefits of using a todo list, as well as keeping you on track, is that it reminds you about what you actually did in the past. I often need to go back and look at tasks I’ve recently completed. I’ll even write notes on the task to record the decision that was made and provide evidence on how the task was completed.
To apply this idea to your own work and routine, ask yourself:
“What types of things do I find fall through the cracks?”
“How will I find this later?”
“What important information do I need to know about this later that I’m likely to forget?”
“What small action can I make today to save time when I start the project later?”
Do you have any examples of things you currently do to set yourself up for success later? Share your ideas in the comments below!