How to be better organised

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Finding the competing demands of your job, studies and personal life increasingly unmanageable? A few little tweaks to the way you organise yourself can go a long way to helping you manage your workload better.

To have a productive day you need to start the day before, advises Elaine Garcia, academic leader at InterActive Pro.

‘Before you finish work, ensure your desk is tidy and you’ve done everything you needed to,’ she says. ‘Have a to-do list where you can cross off things that you have achieved today, so you know what to tackle tomorrow.’

When you do face the new day, prioritise your tasks. As Garcia says, it can be easy to start on tasks that are the easiest or quickest, but accountants need to work on what is urgent. ‘Having said that, it can be helpful to do a few quick tasks to give yourself “easy wins” and make you feel like you’re accomplishing things,’ she suggests.

Adopt a one-touch rule

A tidy desk will also help you feel like you’re on top of things. Adopt a one-touch rule, says Mike Hoyle, finance director at Sellick Partnership: ‘Deal with every piece of paper that crosses your desk immediately. Bin it, act on it, file it or – if you really must – place it in your inbox until you have time to deal with it.’

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But if you really need to get something done straightaway, turn off the tech so that you minimise any interruptions, although bear in mind that the tech can be enormously helpful too.

Career coach Caroline Arnold says: ‘I am slightly old school and like the simplicity of a notebook, phone and Mac to keep me organised, but my colleagues swear by apps such as Evernote or Trello.’ She also recommends Eisenhower Matrix app for helping with the prioritisation process mentioned above.

It’s really about finding the right tool for you within a budget that you feel comfortable with. ‘If you aren’t sure which ones to try, ask a colleague or friend who seems to be organised and learn from what they are doing,’ suggests Arnold.

Hoyle champions ubiquitous Microsoft Outlook for organising your working life. ‘The calendar, to-do lists and email flag functions allow you to plan your days in detail and your monthly whereabouts. All the information is at your fingertips and the mobile functionality allows you to access it all on the move,’ he says.

Finally, always try to finish a task before moving on to the next one. Avoid having lots of incomplete jobs on the go. It will help you stay on top of things and be ready to face each new day.

More information

This article was first published in Student Accountant in April 2023Get the SA app now

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