Organisation – Mixing business and IT (Part 1)

What is Organisation?

Get Organised

“Organisation” can be defined as many different things, to describe a company, to describe a structure or to identify a body of people. But to be organised is something very different. Something that should come very simple is made difficult by the pace at which most people live their lives.

We all want “more time in our day”. This is something that isn’t technically possible but we strive for it almost every day. We are trying to make the most of our time and ensure that we aren’t wasting it away. What happens when we are talking about an organisation? How do we ensure we don’t have many people wasting their time on fruitless endeavours?

I don’t pretend to be an expert nor do I say that I have it all right in my own life but in these two posts I want to look at what can make an individual “organised” and then how to extend this into a company or organisation.

Getting Yourself Organised

Are all successful people organised? No. However, for the majority of them, no matter how they became successful, rely on being organised to stay on top of all of their commitments. I say this as loosely as possible because I don’t talk about measuring success by the money you make or how high up the corporate ladder you are.

Instead it’s more about how you balance your life to ensure you get all the things that matter to you done. Notice that I have already said that something is going to give. Some people worry about this, some people “freak out” about this.

“Oh no! I didn’t get this/that done. I’m going to be in so much trouble.”

This could be you!

There are only a couple of reasons this can happen:

  1. You didn’t plan your time well enough to be able to allow for this important task. (Poor Planner)
  2. You are completely overloaded and didn’t have the control to be able to prioritise the task. (Overloaded)
  3. You don’t organise any of your time. You live in a chaotic mess. (Chaos)

 
A lot of people will believe they are doing the best they can. Some people will think they are a “Poor Planner” when they actually are “Overloaded”. Others will believe they are “Overloaded” when they are actually in “Chaos”. However there are some simple ways to deal with these types of issues.

  • Poor Planner – Build a task list and prioritise it every day (or as much as necessary). Check that it meets your requirements and that of your bosses (or wife).
  • Overloaded – Talk to your boss/spouse and explain your difficulty. Most people in a leadership position will understand and assist you to organise your time or provide you with additional resources to get the tasks done.
  • Chaos – Get help! Get some tools to help. (See below)

 
I know this all seems like common knowledge and to a lot of people it may just be a case of “no shit” but I have seen countless people that just live in chaos (and not realise).

What tools are there to get organised you ask? Most of you will use them every day and just don’t make the most of them.

Common Personal Organisation/Planning Tools

Microsoft Outlook

Gmail/Google Calendar

Sticky Notes (As in the physical and the software)

Other you may not have heard of

Taptodo – A free iOS (iPhone & iPad) based task list manager for a Google Account

Grindstone – A free and simple windows based stopwatch for multiple tasks

Using Microsoft Outlook for Organisation

The only one I truly rely on is Microsoft Outlook. It has been around for years and covers almost anything you could want from a personal planner toolset. It is cloud based with outlook.com and now works with a simple and free Hotmail account. It has been used by businesses big and small around the world to get the job done. I can’t recommend enough to start here if you don’t use anything else.

If you think Outlook is all about email you got another thing coming. Outlook is the hub of almost any Microsoft based organisation. It provides email, shared calendars, task lists, contacts and communicates with almost every other application on a Windows desktop. I won’t delve into how to use this application too much here but I would like to cover off a couple of tools that are way too underutilised.

Flag to task!

Red isn’t a great colour to have all over Outlook but it will make you remember to do something about it. Far too often we read an email and get distracted without replying or actioning the task that was required of us. This is the easiest way to make sure you don’t forget that email.

Flagged Item in Outlook 2010

Once it’s been flagged then it stays in your task list (Bottom right) until you sign it off.

Outlook Task List

Scheduling Assistant

Rather than just making an appointment in your Calendar you can try to schedule it so that it aligns with everyone’s available time. If they are in the same organisation you will be able to see what time fits everyone. Simple start a “New Appointment” then click “Scheduling Assistant” and start adding people you want at your meeting. If they are trusted (normally they are if they are in your organisation) then you can see if they are busy or not. This makes it extremely easy to line up a time that all potential participants can attend.

Build a contact list

This one doesn’t just apply to Outlook but is a great rule. Most email systems are device agnostic these days. That is to say that you can sync your mail with your iPhone or Android device. Your mail comes with your calendar and contacts. Maintain/update your calendar or contacts on your computer and you will have them available anywhere at any time.

 

In the next part (coming soon) we explore the business side and simple ways to improve the organisation in your business and how IT can be used to assist in this process…

 

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