"I wish I had a little more time to finish this task."
"I am juggling too many balls at once."
"I don't know what to do next."
If you were tasked to schedule a client meeting with your manager in Chennai at a specific place on a particular date and time, how would you go about this? Would you book the travel tickets first, or find a hotel for reservations? How much can you spend on hotel booking? How to work on these tasks concurrently? All this sounds overwhelming together, right? But here is when the ability to organize comes in. So how do we approach this?
Having clarity on every single detail given to you- mode of travel, budgets, dates, location of accommodation, calendar schedule of your manager, managing the meeting details, coordinating with the clients, and much more. The first step is to have in-depth clarity of every task assigned to us. Once you have the clarity, you move on to planning.
Now, what's the road map to this client meeting? What tasks do you have to take care of, who would be involved in every task, what's the first task on the plate, and how much time will every task take? These are a few things that come to our mind once we're clear with what we have to do; hence, planning to put on your master to-do list with appropriate resource allocation will lead you to your first step of planning by evaluating all alternatives.
As this Harvard Business School article puts it, “Before an organization can reap the rewards of its business strategy, planning must take place to ensure its strategy remains agile and executable.”
(iii) Prioritizing Work
Now that you have everything on paper, how do you know which task is to take place first so that you save time without juggling too many balls at once. For example, you must first work on calendar management by checking the manager's schedule for the meeting. Only then can you move on to the next step of deciding the dates as per the availability of the reservations to be made. This step will help you minimize time and eliminate unrealistic tasks.
(iv) Visualizing Problems
Are you able to think what can be the delays in your tasks? Do you have a contingency plan if the flight gets delayed or what if the client meeting is moved one day ahead of its schedule? It's equally important to mentally rehearse and prepare for these problems with your plan B.
(v) Delegation of Tasks
You're not working alone. You have a finance team to coordinate with for the budgets, involving external teams/individuals to book accommodation/flights, and maybe much more. Delegation of tasks gives us an estimation of time, breaking down tasks into subtasks and coordinating from there on. It shows how well can transfer tasks and manage individuals, teams, and organizations by sharing the desired outcome.
According to an article by Indeed editorial, “An important part of delegation is knowing which team member is the most qualified to finish a particular task or project. If you can list and organize your tasks and decide which to delegate, you may be able to improve the productivity of your entire team.”
You can use these options to categorize your tasks into when you should do it, should you even do it, or get it done by someone else.
Use Do for when you think a task is priority and needs to be done immediately for the planning to work.
Use Delegate for when you think a task is important but your time could be better spent somewhere else.
Use Delay for tasks which are not a priority.
And Delete the tasks which are not worth doing.
Lastly, what if another task is assigned to you that leads to a change in your priority? What if your manager has to go to Mumbai tomorrow for a small event? Will you be able to adapt to this change of changing your task schedule and move on to a new task entirely as per the requirements? Uncertainty is a part of the game, and learning how to manage changing priorities remains equally important.
How to acquire the Ability to Organize?
Now that you have understood the steps to approach, plan, and go about organizing in general, you must be wondering about how to practically learn these skills. Well, here's how:
1) Make To-Do Lists
When you have your to do list, you have the potential of getting things done and being productive. If you make your own to-do lists, it will be easier to find what's missing and solve whatever problems could arise. You'll be able to manage all the tasks in a way that each individual task can be prioritized and organized effectively.
2) Use a Calendar to Plan
Having a calendar to plan is highly important. It will give you key dates and times which need to be considered when you're planning your tasks.
3) Collaborate with Team Members
There are times when we have to delegate the task to external people in the form of a team. It's here where collaboration among team members is crucial, especially when it's not just one person completing the task but several individuals working together at various locations, time zones, etc.
Aristotle puts it best - “The whole is greater than the parts.”
4) Use Mind Maps and Tools
There are tools you can use to enable collaboration and make the task of remembering and mapping concepts easier. Such aids help nail down the interconnectedness of tasks, make the task simple and easy to manage, and to-do lists become visual instead of just being a list within a list.( E.g. Notion, OneNote, etc.)
5) Take Breaks
It's important that we take breaks from time to time so as to stay fresh and alert. By taking breaks, it will help you in managing your time effectively, whether it be in restoring your energy levels for continuing with your tasks or getting some fresh air for your mind.
6) Get Feedback
Having strong relationships with those around you helps immensely in meeting the expectations of clients and projects which are the key factor for success when executing assignments. Getting feedback is vital so that problems can be identified before they crop up by affecting us negatively.