July 2024

In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, our VETgirl Support Coordinator Mikki Denaris provides some tips on how to stay organized and maintain productivity (and peace of mind) while managing multiple priorities.

By Mikki Denaris
Support Coordinator, VETgirl

Do you ever have those days when you just feel like you can’t get out of your own way? Like you’re swimming in chaos, desperately treading water? Whether you work remotely or on-site sometimes staying on top of constantly changing priorities can present its challenges; but with a few simple techniques you can get (and stay) organized and improve your workflow – and it’s easier than you think!

I remember during one of my initial interviews with VETgirl, one of the questions I was asked was, “When you’re juggling multiple priorities, how do you stay organized?” and my answer was simply, “I just do.” Straightforward and accurate. Because I had never really thought about how I did it, I just did it. But then I really started to be conscious of what I was doing to keep everything on track and came up with these tips that can hopefully help you as well, whether you’re working in a busy clinic setting, remotely, or in an office.

Create Your Perfect Space
First thing you need to do is make sure you have a dedicated workspace that suits your needs. Cozy corner in your living room? Fancy home office? Designated “chaos corner” where you can pile up all your random stuff? Wherever it is, make it your productivity sanctuary. Try to keep it equipped with everything you need to get you through the day. This is super important!

Minimize Distractions
There will always be distractions. If you’re in an office, the phones are ringing, your coworker stops by to talk about yesterday’s game, or there’s a potluck in the breakroom. Working remotely? Hello, kids and/or fur-kids and home deliveries! Set boundaries and try to create a distraction-free zone during working hours. Communicate your availability to others to lessen the interruptions.

Prioritize Your Tasks
To stay on top of your game (especially if you’re supporting executives and/or managing others) it’s crucial to prioritize your tasks. Take 5 minutes at the end of your workday to identify the most important, time-sensitive tasks for the next day. If it seems like there are too many, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Organize
Create distinct folders for different projects or clients and ensure everything is appropriately labeled. Personally, I prefer to create a hierarchy of folders, subfolders, (and even more subfolders – I LOVE folders!) based on the context. For instance, instead of filing all invoice-related files into one folder, I prefer to categorize them further (by name, year, etc.). By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage your digital assets and streamline your workflow.

 

screenshot folder organizationscreenshot organization folder 2

 

This simple step will save you a ton of time when searching for specific documents and emails. And speaking of emails, don’t forget about Inbox overload. Create the same type of folder structure for filing emails to make it easy for a quick search. I also have color codes that I use so I can keep track of which ones I need to revisit.
screenshot outlook
And once you’re done checking email for the day, avoid refreshing your inbox and getting distracted by every new message that pops up (this was the most challenging for me).

Utilize Technology
We live in a digital era – take advantage of technology to streamline your work life. Use project management tools like Monday or Asana to keep track of your projects and collaborate with your team. Sites like Doodle can assist with scheduling nightmares, and apps like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Slack are great for quick communication with your team.

Embrace the Chaos
Sounds like an oxymoron, right? You might be wondering how embracing chaos can actually benefit you. Well, here are some reasons why:

• Creativity: When you let go of control and embrace the chaos, your mind is free to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. It allows you to see things from a different perspective and come up with new ideas.
• Adaptability: Being comfortable with chaos fosters adaptability, teaching you to be more flexible and responsive to unexpected changes. This skill is incredibly valuable in many types of settings (both personal and professional).

While you are embracing chaos, don’t forget to

Leverage the Power of To Do Lists
These are my best tool for saying organized. Use technology like OneNote, the Tasks feature in Gmail or Outlook, or even a montage of sticky notes. Whatever it takes – jot down your tasks, deadlines, and any additional notes to keep your thoughts in order. Color code them if you want! The satisfaction you can get by crossing off completed items, it’s like a mini victory dance!

And speaking of dancing…

Dance Breaks!

Seriously, staying organized and motivated throughout the day can be monotonous. So why not some impromptu dancing? Whenever I’m feeling stuck or overwhelmed, I just put on some music and start shimmying. Not only does it boost your mood, but it gets your blood pumping and your creative juices flowing. Dance breaks are obviously a little easier when you’re working remotely, but hey…start to boogie in the office and maybe you’ll get some coworkers to join in and you can have your own dance off! I have dance parties almost every day, and my dogs love it!

If you’re not into dancing, just staying hydrated and taking regular breaks can significantly impact your productivity and focus. Always keep a water bottle at your desk and schedule short breaks to step away from the screen. It’s not just about physical health; it’s about giving your brain a moment to reset, which can lead to better concentration and efficiency.

Staying organized can be tricky, but hopefully some of these ideas will help you to be better equipped to handle it.

  1. Don’t forget the power of delegation – Especially as doctors – you do not have to do EVERY single task, utilize your staff and delegate when appropriate

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