tips to stay organised while working from home

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** Script **

Concerning the software I use, I am limited to the computer I was assigned as well as the software used in my workplace, so I have to use Windows and the whole Microsoft suite – in my case, my workflow focuses on Microsoft word and excel for document creation and editing, outlook for e-mail management, OneNote for note-taking and Webex for online meetings.

At 9 am and before I get online and get my inbox flooded with e-mails I take from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to prepare **for the day** which means **(1) checking my calendar thoroughly,** while taking a mental note of any meetings or deadlines due that day as well as **(2) checking yesterday’s to-do list** and **(3) check progress on current projects.**

I use OneNote to brainstorm ideas, questions or small tasks I would like to do related to those projects and keep those neatly organized in my “to-do” section in my work notebook. These are mostly tasks of my own initiative instead of assignments from other people, so I find it almost therapeutic to be able to write them down and go back to them later before I start working on other things.

After getting online, I focus on e-mail management, that is, reading new e-mails and filtering them accordingly. Besides archiving e-mails according to project or topic, I use the **inbox zero system** to make sure my inbox is always updated.

1. If a message requires no action on my behalf, I archive it immediately.

2. If a message requires a simple reply that I can knock out in a minute or less, I reply immediately and then archive it.

3. If a message requires some level of thought or response that I can’t get to right away, I flag it, leave it in my inbox and snooze it for a time that I think I’ll be able to handle. After I respond, I archive it again.

I prefer categorizing e-mails and leaving most files in my inbox instead of downloading everything. Using color codes to categorize e-mails allows me to understand at a glance which e-mails inside the archive contain valuable information and which e-mails do not.

Whenever an e-mail has an attached file that I should read later, I will mark it with the yellow category and an e-mail with action points related to a current project or a new project is flagged.

Now that I’ve read my e-mails and messages, I have a new batch of tasks to schedule accordingly. Since outlook comes with a calendar, I use it as my main time management tool for work.

Regarding conference calls, accepting e-mail invites automatically imports them to my calendar so those sections are immediately blocked.

Major project deadlines are inserted on the upper part of my calendar in case they are a daily event or scheduled at a specific time block in case they are assigned to a specific time of the day. Project deadlines are marked with the word DEADLINE in caps before the title.

I use **[calendar or time blocking]** to plan my workdays – calendar blocking works by using half an hour or one-hour blocks to space out time for all of my routines, tasks and projects. That means I will schedule my lunch break, the time I use to prepare for meetings, the time I will spend doing some focused work and so on.

To quickly log in information in calendar format and avoiding opening each event to know more details, I use a bunch of symbols and abbreviations – I abbreviate or name each project with a simple word and when I log a task I need to work on I will mark that task with the word “ACTION” in the title. The naming of my outlook entries follows the pattern “**Action/Deadline – Project Name_Task Title”**, a similar naming system to what I use for my own document filing organization method.

OneNote is also a great companion for my work and I just keep it open all day long, usually occupying half of the screen while I’m working on something or participating in a call in the other side.

I have one main notebook for work and use sections to divide my notes by projects and pages for theme or date specific notes. i use the same notebook because a lot of the work groups I participate in, correlate between them so I find it easier to access information in the same place instead of having to jump between notebooks.

The first page of any of my projects tabs is an **Updates Page**, where I log in the date and the current stage of each project. In this updates page I include important data from past e-mails, next steps to take towards completion of the project, titles of relevant documents and links to shared folders that have general information regarding the team’s workflow.

Whenever I have a **[meeting notes]** or conference call relating to any of those projects, I create a new page under that section to take my notes during the meeting. I make sure to log in the date, participants and agenda and then I take notes using a bullet format.

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