How to Get Organized Part 2: Tools for Getting Organized

These tools for organization make getting, and staying, organized a lot easier.

I’m going to go ahead and say it: Getting organized and feeling less stressed allows us to be more productive and efficient. In Part 1 of this series on getting organized, I emphasized the importance of creating lists and how they can be the foundation of establishing order. But what about those nasty impediments?

They’re those obstacles that can wreak havoc on your time management if leave them unaddressed. One of the most common impediments to getting organized is “difficulty staying on task.” Fortunately, using a calendar, wrangling your emails, and setting personal deadlines can keep you motivated—and organized—for the long haul.

Using a calendar

This is where a digital calendar can work wonders. If you speak fluent Google, I recommend setting up a Google calendar that is specific to each client or each project; that way, you can color code and “filter” your overall calendar view by choosing to hide or show particular calendars at any given time. You can also share specific calendars with others to keep them in the loop.

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Setting your own deadlines

In addition to scheduling final due dates, each calendar can be used to set milestone deadlines for your projects, and to help yourself stay on track from start to finish, you can apply an automatic email or pop-up notification one week before a deadline.

Use a Digital Calendar to Stay on Top of Deadlines:

  • Set up different calendars for different clients or projects
  • Color code each calendar
  • Schedule project deadlines and milestones
  • Set up automatic reminders associated with deadlines and milestones
  • Share calendars with those who need to stay in the loop

Managing your emails

Sometimes, part of getting organized is properly categorizing items. Categorizing is especially helpful when a question arises about a project and you need to find the answer in that black hole otherwise known as your inbox.

Creating inbox folders

To tidy up your inbox, try making folders where you can keep past emails. Name your folders by client, then you can add subfolders for each project for that client. If you don’t work with clients, create folders based on topic, or go really extreme with the Trusted Trio method used by the founder of Lifehacker, Gina Trapana. Using the trio, you categorize your emails using three folders that represent different actions: Follow Up, Hold, or Archive.

Setting inbox rules

Speaking of messy inboxes, another great feature of many email applications is setting up “rules” for incoming emails. For example, I wanted to make sure I never missed an email notification telling me I had something to review, so I set up a rule for my inbox that highlighted yellow the emails sent from our internal traffic system and had a subject line that started with “proof,” which was the pre-set subject line for these system email notifications. Those emails stood out from the rest in my inbox and it was easy to see I had an action to complete.

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Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe!

Additionally, if you’re like me and you subscribe to several email newsletters, consider creating each a specific folder, and then set up a rule to route emails from those senders to each folder. Ultimately, you can keep receiving them if you want, and they won’t clutter your pretty inbox. (But if you’re not reading them regularly, you might just unsubscribe instead!)

Brianna Sheck
Account Executive Extraordinaire

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