Work You’re Proud To Share

Across the nation, today is Take Your Child To Work Day. What a great opportunity for children to see where mom or dad spend the better portion of their waking hours! Whether you work at an office (or other place of business) or work at home, I think parents and children should participate. My children are still too young but I am looking forward to when they get a bit older and can attend.

But when your little one shows up at your desk, what are they going to find? Will they see how routines and organization help mom or dad be an effective and highly contributing employee or will they see a mess that could rival the pile under their own bed?

As parents we give our children a lot of instruction. And we want them to learn the skills that are going to help them succeed in life. But as many times as we tell them what to do, showing them is going to be “heard” a thousand times louder. When watching you, is your child learning the skills of routine and consistency?

If you are blushing, don’t panic. There’s plenty of time to turn things around before he or she comes back next year. My favorite tool for staying organized at work is the 3-ring binder.

What does mine look like:

* Weekly Calendar – my binder has a clear cover pocket. Each week I print my Outlook calendar and put a copy there on the cover.  This is helpful when I’m in a meeting and want to see if we can extend the time 30 minutes or if I need to head off to something else.

* Weekly Routine Checklist – simple lists of things to be done at the start and end of each day and week to keep things running smoothly. This includes reminders like, updating time card, checking voicemail, preparing weekly activity reports, emptying recycle bins. Just like you have routines at home (like taking out the trash each Tuesday and emptying the dishwasher every night before bed) having routines at work gives you structure to build an productive day upon.

* To-Do List – first page inside of the binder. I can update as things come up. This only works when work is separate from home. My binder stays at work and the tasks on this list are exclusive to things to be done at my workplace during the work day. If you have a more integrated work-life to-do list you will probably like a more mobile option.

* Contacts – phone numbers of the top 5-10 contacts in my binder. I don’t use a mobile phone for work. And while I can easily look them up when sitting at my desk, I occasionally need a number to call someone for consultation while in the middle of a meeting. This saves the trouble of going out of the meeting to look up the number.

* Planning Calendars – a tabbed section with printed copies of blank calendars for the next 6 months. This is helpful in meetings when planning projects out into the future.

* Tabbed Sections – each current project gets its own tab. While we try to be as paperless as possible, there are some things that do come as print outs. It’s also where I take notes specific to a project while in meetings and during phone conversations.

* Blank Paper – keep a small section of blank pages at the back to be moved to the specific section as needed for notes.

I was a Franklin-Covey planner type of worker a decade ago. But I found that format didn’t work as well for me as a simple binder. I can add and remove all kinds of notes and correspondence. And I don’t have to rewrite the to-do list each day, it just rolls along with me.

I know that most of us work “paperless” in our emails and through shared databases with our colleagues. But tell me, if you are paperless at work, then why is there a huge stack of papers on the corner of your desk? The reality is that paper is part of our work day. The key is finding a way to manage the paper so that it helps you accomplish your work rather than detracting from your productivity.