Executives face a number of challenges in the workplace, and personal organization is a major one. Staying organized in the face of an overwhelming deluge of work, roles, and responsibilities that require equal attention can be taxing, to say the least.
There are numerous benefits associated with personal organization and they often revolve around saving time and being more productive. According to Forbes ASAP, the average executive spends up to 150 hours every year looking for lost information. That’s considerable time that can be channeled into more productive activities with a proper personal organization system.
In this article, we will see why executives need to bother about personal organization and what tools exist for an effective personal organization in 2022.
Why is personal organization important for executives?
- Personal organization tools bring an increase in work productivity.
- It improves motivation and causes a positive change in your quality of work.
- It helps you meet deadlines consistently and builds your confidence in your ability.
- It helps you to set ambitious goals and break previously set records.
- It improves your work efficiency and minimizes frustration
- Your level of personal organization also affects your reputation and how reliable people consider you to be.
Tools for effective personal organization
Today’s executive no longer requires a physical to-do list to be organized and productive. There are a number of tools available on various digital platforms that allow you to be efficient with your time, manage your workload and achieve your goals.
Some of these personal organization apps, grouped by their specific functions, are as follows:
Managing To-dos and organizing tasks
Evernote is a popular note-taking app that is also used for task management and organization. Created as a tool for capturing ideas in the moment, Evernote allows input in the form of text, scribbles, images, and audio. Also, you can use the Web Clipper to capture entire articles, text snippets, and emails in Evernote.
Evernote organizes notes in stacks called Notebooks and provides tags for categorization. You can create to-do lists in Tasks and add deadlines and reminders. The WYSIWYG editor provides text formatting and allows you to color-code your notes.
It provides customizable templates for different activities for creating notes quickly. Evernote also syncs across multiple platforms and allows access to your notes at any time. You can share entire notebooks or individual notes with others to make collaboration easier.
It’s available on Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. It integrates with Google Docs, Salesforce, Slack, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Teams.
Captio is an expense management solution that allows you to control your business’ expenses. Captio completely automates your business’ expense management. It eliminates the burden of paperwork and reduces filing errors during business trips.
Captio is remarkably easy to use. You simply scan your receipts. Captio automatically extracts the data and the system generates expense reports in a single click.
The free version allows you to try Captio with ten monthly captures and manual expense entry. The paid versions will enable you to move beyond manual input and provide more opportunities for saving money and managing your business expenses.
Captio integrates with accounting, customer relationship management, and enterprise resource planning tools like Oracle, IBM, SAP, Sage, Qlik, and Salesforce.
Basecamp is a popular tool for team collaboration and project management. It allows teams to communicate and schedule tasks in real-time. Basecamp provides all the tools you need for productivity with a simple and easy-to-use interface.
Basecamp offers six basic tools in every team workspace, which it calls basecamps:
- Message Boards
- Automatic check-ins
- Docs and Files
Basecamp is available on the Web, Android, and iOS. It offers two plans for users. Basecamp Business is charged at a flat rate of $99 per month and is used by large teams. Basecamp Personal is free for personal projects, students, and small teams. There is a 30-day free trial for the paid plan. It integrates with Zapier, Automate.io, Zoho Flow, and Unito.io.
Workflow Management and Automation
Calendly allows you to schedule meetings without the hassle of back-and-forth emails. With Calendly, you can schedule appointments efficiently and automate your workflow.
It allows you to connect up to six calendars, including Google, Microsoft Outlook, iCal, and Office 365. Once your calendar application is connected, you can set your availability so that you only get bookings how and when you want them.
You can set buffer times between appointments and a notice period to prevent last-minute bookings. It is also possible to create different event types based on your preferences.
Calendly offers a free plan that allows you only one calendar integration per user and only one event type for scheduling. It has other paid plans billed annually, such as Essentials (priced at $8/seat/month), Professional (priced at $12/seat/month), and Teams (priced at $16/seat/month).
Calendly offers integrations with Salesforce, Google Calendar, Office 365, Hubspot, Slack, and Zoom.
Asana is a web-based project management platform that helps teams to track, organize and manage their projects. Asana helps to streamline all aspects of team collaboration and communication.
This software makes it easy to break long-term projects into tasks and set goals with specific deadlines for all team members. It provides templates, so you don’t have to create tasks from scratch every time.
Asana allows you to customize your Project View with six different preset options. You can also group your team tasks in different sections or columns to show priority and to keep them organized.
Asana offers a free, Basic tier for teams of up to 15 people. The Premium plan is priced at $11/user/month and includes more features like the Workflow Builder, while the Business plan is priced at $25/user/month and includes more advanced integrations.
It connects with over 200 tools, including Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, Google Drive, Vimeo, Zendesk, and Dropbox.
Streak is a customer relationship management extension built directly into Gmail. With Streak, you can manage any workflow directly from your Gmail inbox. The mobile app, available on iOS and Android, syncs with the web extension and allows you to use Streak on the go. The extension supports both Google Chrome and Safari browsers.
You can use Streak to manage your business processes, including sales, project management, fundraising, support, and hiring. Streak also offers email tracking features that allow you to track sent emails.
The free, basic plan allows you to manage up to 500 boxes in your pipeline, mail merge for 50 recipients per day, and email tracking. The Solo ($15/user/month), Pro ($49/user/month) and Enterprise ($129/user/month) plans offer more advanced features for users that need the added functionality. Streak integrates with all the apps in Google Workspace and Zapier.
Trello is a project management web application that is based on the Kanban-style of work management. The Kanban system was developed by Toyota in the 1940s and involves using cards to represent individual work items and columns to represent stages in the process. If you are already a fan of Kanban boards, you might take a liking to Trello.
Just like in the Kanban system, you can create boards with different columns (lists) to represent each stage of the project and move the tasks between the lists based on their completion stage. You can create as many columns as you want and organize your tasks in Trello cards.
Trello provides a number of templates that make it easy to get started with managing projects. These templates are designed to suit a variety of projects, frameworks, and productivity goals. With paid plans, you can even create your templates for your team.
Trello offers a free plan that allows you to create up to 10 boards and an unlimited number of cards. The paid plans, billed annually, are Standard ($5/user/month), Premium ($10/user/month), and Enterprise ($17.50/user/month).
Trello is best suited for managing small projects and work processes. You may need to explore other options for large-scale projects.
Zapier is a powerful workflow automation tool that helps you automate your work across 4000+ platforms. Zapier takes care of the drudgery and minutiae of your day-to-day tasks and enables you to be more productive.
It connects all the web apps in your workflow and makes it easy to automate your entire work process. First, you need to create a Zap and set your trigger. A Zap is what Zapier calls an automated workflow.
Once the apps in the workflow process are connected, and the triggers are set, you can define the actions that need to happen in sequence.
Zapier supports over 4000 productivity and personal organization applications, including Google Sheets, Gmail, Twitter, Google Drive, Slack, Hubspot, and Calendly.
They offer a pay-as-you-go pricing model with five different tiers, including a free tier. The starter plan allows you to automate 750 tasks per month and costs $20/month, billed annually.
Flexibits’ Fantastical is a calendar app that is loaded with amazing scheduling and task planning features.
Fantastical includes natural language text parsing, i.e., you can use the voice dictation feature to type “Brainstorming Meeting with Enrico tomorrow at 11 am” and that event will be added to your calendar. You can also create and join conference calls right from the app.
Fantastical is available for free, at the expense of some features. The Premium version is bundled with Cardhop, a contacts app, and priced based on a monthly subscription model, at $3.33 per month for individuals and $5.42 for families. The Premium version gives you access to events and tasks templates, among other advanced features.
Fantastical is only available on Apple devices and syncs across the iOS ecosystem. It integrates with Zoom, Google Meet, Google Calendar, iCloud, and Microsoft Teams.
1. Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a framework for time management and task prioritization. The matrix, named after the US army general Dwight Eisenhower, sorts tasks based on their level of urgency and importance.
It helps you to delineate:
- What you need to do as soon as possible
- What you should schedule for a later time
- what you should delegate to someone else
- What you should forego entirely
It divides tasks into four quadrants:
- The first quadrant is for tasks that are urgent and important. These should be given priority and completed as efficiently and quickly as possible.
- The second quadrant is for tasks that are important, but not urgent. These can be scheduled for a later time.
- The third quadrant contains tasks that are not important but are urgent. These tasks are to be delegated to competent hands.
- The fourth quadrant is for tasks that are neither urgent nor important. They are to be deleted or dropped.
2. Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle also called the 80/20 rule or the law of the vital few, postulates that 80% of results come from only 20% of causes. It is named after the economist Vilfredo Pareto who noted in 1896 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.
The Pareto Principle simply means that 20 percent of your input will account for 80 percent of your output. This principle is a simple management concept that can be applied to resource allocation and prioritization.
If only 20 percent of your overall input is the vital few, you’re much better off focusing on those items/tasks/activities. Essentially, applying the Pareto Principle means doubling down on what works and cutting out what doesn’t.
It’s worth noting that the Pareto Principle is not a mathematical law. The percentage of causes and results are only rough estimates and not exact figures.
3. RICE (Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort)
The RICE scoring system is a prioritization framework developed by Intercom. It works based on four metrics, namely reach, impact, confidence, and effort. It is mainly used by product managers who use these four metrics to evaluate each project idea and to decide what to add to the product roadmap.
- Reach: This is the total number of people your project will impact during a specific period. It is measured in the number of people/events per time period.
- Impact: This metric evaluates the impact of the project on each person that comes into contact with it. Measuring impact can be a bit tricky as there is usually more than one factor associated with it. There is a five-tiered system for estimating impact, from 3 to .25.
3 = massive impact
2 = high impact
1 = medium impact
.5 = low impact
.25 = minimal impact
- Confidence: The confidence metric serves as the control for factors you’re more or less guessing at. For example, if you’re relying on intuition for your impact metric, but you’re confident about your reach estimate, your confidence score can help account for this.
- Effort: Effort is calculated in person-months, i.e., the amount of work each team member can do in a month. Reach, Impact, and Confidence is the numerators in the RICE scoring equation, and Effort is the denominator.
(Reach X Impact X Confidence) ÷ Effort = RICE SCORE
4. Priority Planning Poker
Priority Planning Poker is an inclusive prioritization technique where all team members get together to contribute equally in the prioritization process.
According to a study by Moløkken-Østvold and Haugen, tasks assigned by priority planning poker generally result in high-quality end products.
Ideas are presented to stakeholders, and the team votes on metric values through any commonly agreed upon technique (RICE, ICE, WSJF, etc). The scores are then revealed, and the results are accepted, whatever they may be. This process is then repeated for up to two hours maximum.
Deep Work Tools
Dewo is an AI personal assistant designed to help you avoid distractions and do more deep work.
Rather than simply monitoring your screen time as similar applications do, Dewo provides you with more options for blocking notifications and optimizing your work schedule. Also, based on the analytics it obtains about your work patterns, Dewo can give you recommendations on how to improve your productivity.
Dewo is entirely free to use at the moment. It is available on Android, iOS, and PC.
StayFocusd is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to supercharge your productivity. It works by restricting the amount of time you can spend on distracting websites. Once the specified amount of time is up, those websites will be inaccessible for the rest of that day.
This helps you cut out mindless scrolling and maximize your productivity. StayFocusd allows you to block websites, subdomains, pages, and even in-page content. StayFocusd uses Google Sync so you can manage blocked sites across all your computers.
Personal organization can seem like an insurmountable task at first, but it is possible to improve your work life and overall productivity with the right approach and digital tools.
While the importance of organizational tools cannot be understated, the most sophisticated tools won’t salvage a lack of motivation and poor decision-making. This is why taking care of your physical and mental health is vital. Here are three ways to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity.