Work can seem like a chaotic crazy place, and sometimes it is. When keeping up with a fast-paced office it is imperative to keep some sense of organization within the chaos. Here are five things I’ve learned to keep me on my toes.
Photo Credit:adsducduy via Flickr
Meetings should have clear agendas and objectives. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve entered with no clue what it was about. Providing an agenda allows everyone attending to put some thought into the topic and come with ideas and suggestions. If someone sends a vague meeting invite ask them for specifics before accepting the invitation. Meetings are a time-killer so choose wisely.
Descriptive email titles. For example: Assistance Needed: Month End PPC Revenue Report -EOD Today, this subject line clearly states the topic, action, and deadline without you actually reading the message. This allows you and the sender to quickly prioritize. I hate reading through long email chains to figure out the action or deadline.We all receive a ton of email daily and to make sure your request doesn’t get lost in the shuffle make it easy for others to skim their inbox and quickly find requests.
Keep your calendar up-to-date.Nothing is more frustrating than trying to schedule a meeting with a large group of people. Keeping an updated calendar saves time along with added calls and emails from people trying to coordinate a meeting. I hate when I finally find thirty minutes when fifteen people are free only to have one person say they have a conflict. Trust me, it will save you time and headache if you keep it updated. You don’t have to put everything on the calendar, but you should include travel days, vacation, and unavoidable meetings.
Demand a deadline. ASAP is not a deadline, though many will beg to differ. If I have ten ASAP requests how do I prioritize? There’s a big difference between 10am and end-of-day. Set clear expectations so you don’t spend valuable time on the wrong fire drill.
Make a daily to-do list. I try to make my list at the end of the day so that when I get to work in the morning I can get going. There’s nothing worse than being blind-sided as soon as you walk through the door. Having a list prepared helps you prioritize the fire drills. I’ve kept lists on sticky notes, Outlooktask lists, and Excel spreadsheets. Find which method works best for you.
How have you become more efficient? Share your tips.
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Whenever someone finds out I’m an introvert I always get a strange look to go along with a response like, ‘oh you’re one of those’. What is that supposed to mean? First of all let’s make sure you extroverts clearly understand what the word introvert means. It means that I’m motivated from within by things that are truly important to me. Instead of talking I’m the one listening to all the facts and looking at the big picture. Having 20 BFFs would probably give me a nervous breakdown. Extroverts have no fear, I’m not after one moment of the attention which you fight so hard to have and keep. I don’t want it. Satisfaction doesn’t come from being Employee of the Month. My work speaks for itself so I don’t have to ‘sell’ you on it. And don’t worry, even though I know the answer I know it means much more to you to answer the question than I do. I am confident, not cocky or arrogant. I know what I know and that’s a fact. I also know what I don’t know and have no problem admitting that either. Please don’t mistake my lack of excitement as being disengaged or careless either. Just know that I’m cheering on the inside while thinking through our plan. Now I hate to speak for all introverts, but the ones I do know are pretty sharp. I don’t want to wear matching outfits and scream real loud. Give me a Sudoku puzzle and a quiet room instead. Being introverted doesn’t mean I’m shy or incapable of public speaking. It’s actually the opposite. Whew! I really needed to get that off my chest. I hate the fact that being an introvert has such a negative connotation.
There are times when being an introvert is uncomfortable. Writing my resume and outlining MY accomplishments are extremely hard for me. I fear coming across as arrogant while instead I probably come across as the sacrificial lamb. I’ve done most if not all the work on projects but just can’t bring myself to take credit for it. There’s that part of me that feels like my work will speak for itself and it does. Sometimes it gets lost in the roar of the extroverts. The one interview question I always struggle with is “What is your greatest career accomplishment?” It’s not that I don’t have accomplishments, I just don’t want to come across as cocky. Networking has also been a struggle for me. Though I know a ton of people, asking them to write me a letter of recommendation or refer me for a job makes me cringe. I’ve never had an issue with public speaking, making friends or fitting in, but I’ve also never been the girl who got a job because of who I knew. I used to wear that as a badge of honor because I landed the job solely on talent. I realize that sometimes it’s a mix of who and what you know. As the world continues to become more social becoming more outgoing is my only choice. Since I am a self-aware introvert I am actively working on it.
In an office where I am definitely outnumbered I have to put on my extrovert hat at times just to stay in the mix. The quiet power of introverts to solve problems is one of the greatest assets. At my last company we did a team-building exercise where we all took the Meyers-Briggs test (INTJ!) and performed several exercises as a team. One of the exercises was to build the tallest tower out of paper within a certain timeframe. My extroverted teammate was ready to dive right in, while I sat back and examined all of our options, calmly and methodically. We compared game plans and decided to use my idea. Not only did we finish before the buzzer, but our structure was the tallest! Score one for team introvert. With so many extroverts in one office vying for attention it’s great that there’s one less person in the mix. I get to sit back a watch the drama unfold from my quiet little corner. Someone has to come up with the ideas to give them something to brag about. Extroverts aren’t all bad. When you can get a mix of both together who truly understands how the other thinks you can really generate some great ideas. The first step to that is removing the stigma that an introvert is a negative thing. I have this picture posted at my desk so extroverts know the rules of engagement as they approach me.
What have you learned about interacting with the opposite personality type (introvert vs. extrovert)?
What are some drawbacks to your personality? How are you working to overcome them?
Until high school I’d always been a nerd and not very athletic. Well, in high school I was still a nerd but I was what I like to call a sporty nerd. I really took to track and field and enjoyed it a lot. There was a nice balance of individual and team sport. One of the first lessons I learned was that the only race going on was the race in my lane. Trust me, I learned it the hard way.
I remember running summer track my sophomore year in high school at a meet in Savannah, Georgia to qualify for the national meet. We were all lined up to start the finals of the 100m hurdles. Top three finishers advance to nationals. The race starts and we’re all out pretty even over the first 8 hurdles and I’m starting to feel some separation from the girl next to me. As I come off hurdle 9 I know I have a shot of finishing in the top 3. I decide to take a quick glance to my left to see where I was in the pack and it happened…I knocked the 10th and final hurdle over and fell. Needless to say my dreams of nationals were over. For a split second I lost sight of my race to see what was going on around me and I paid for it. There’s even a scar on my leg to remind me of it. The race was in my lane and my lane alone. The moment I lost sight of what I was doing is the moment I lost control of my race. Everyone’s race strategy is different. Some get out fast, while others get out slow and at the end of it the difference is the time it took us to get to the finish line.
After all these years that lesson has stuck with me. There are those progressing faster than me at life while others haven’t caught up. It’s ok either way. I realize that my life goes at my pace and there’s no reason to panic because someone has a fast start. My race is right here with me not them. I can’t live my life at someone else’s pace, nor do I want to. The fast starters may peak too soon so there’s no need to try to go with them if it’s too fast for me. I also have to watch out for the slow starters because if I discount them they can sneak up on me. My pace must be one that I can handle and strategic enough to keep up with the fast starters and hold off the slow ones. I can’t panic when someone passes me and ditch my race plan. The race is in my lane and my lane only.
When it comes to business the concept is the same. Over the years I’ve done an unofficial survey/observation of women and noticed a difference in those that played sports and those that didn’t. The women who played sports don’t seem to get caught up in the one-upmanship at the office as much as those that didn’t. Watching those with no strategy run in spurts to simply beat someone in that moment instead of thinking about the entire race cracks me up. Admittedly it does get hard at times when your eye is on the prize and you’re running your race and others are passing you by to stay focused. In a race you have to be patient and strike at the right time. If you’ve planned and prepared properly you’ll finish the race with the result you want.
When it seems like everyone’s race is moving faster than yours remember these three things: trust your race plan, don’t panic and be patient. The race you are running is in your lane and no one else’s.
Do you find that playing sports has helped you compete as a woman in business?