How I Use Outlook to Be Better Organized

It’s All About Being Intentional

Getting organized and staying that way can be a real challenge. There are so many important things we need to do. Not to mention all the amazing things we want to do. It’s easy for the list to get so long we don’t even want to look at it.

A long list makes it hard to even know where to start.

But if we don’t write things down they’re less real and more easily forgotten. I use OneNote for keeping track of the things I need or want to do. A list is a great way to track and prioritize things.

The problem with a list is that it doesn’t block out allotted time.

This is where a calendar comes in. Whether digital or written a calendar allows you to block out a period of time for the things you’re going to do. This provides a visual restraint to an otherwise uncontrolled list.

The advantage to digital calendars is the reminders…written ones don’t do this very well. With most everyone having a smart phone in today’s world it’s much harder to forget things that need done. Digital calendars sync across a variety of devices which makes it much more difficult to forget something that’s scheduled.

This is where organization starts to get fun.

Let’s say you have a short list of 50 things to do. It’s up to you to prioritize them in the order that is relative to you and your situation. You know which ones you need or want to do first.

What if the most important thing on the list doesn’t need to be finished until the end of the day. But some of the less important things are connected to someone else’s list and they need them done first thing this morning. Or what if you are a member of a mastermind group that meets at the same time every week and that happens to be today at 11:00 AM.

How do you know what you’re going to do when?

 This is why I find my calendar to be such an important tool. I use my various lists in OneNote to prioritize. Then I look at my calendar. What things are already on there, scheduled appointments, recurring meetings, etc. With the open time left I plug in the most important things from my list. I fill the remainder of my day from beginning to end with things that I need or want to do.

This can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Fun and free time can be scheduled as easily as work.

Benefits of calendaring are:

  • It’s harder to make excuses to not do it, once it’s written on the calendar.
  • I take it more seriously; it becomes more real when it’s written on the calendar.
  • Big things become more manageable when they’re broken down into small sections of time and put on the calendar.
  • Seeing things that have been done when looking at the calendar provides a sense of accomplishment.
  • When there is a reminder that something else is starting in 30 minutes I stay more focused.

I never like to start something without being able to finish it. This makes it hard for me to stop when I’m in the middle of something. Having things scheduled tight on the calendar helps remind me that sometimes I just have to stop what I’m doing and come back to it later. It depends on it’s level of importance.

I’m more productive with a full calendar.

I push harder and focus better if I know there’s something else to do in 15 minutes. If there’s open time I take my foot off the accelerator. It’s how I get control of my life.

One of the greatest things about a digital calendar is the ability to easily move things around. Your calendar like your life is up to you. You can choose what you will do and when you’ll do it.

Just be flexibly rigid.

My go to calendar is Outlook because I love the way it connects with OneNote and syncs with my Motorola phone. Next week we’ll discuss how the Task List portion of Outlook completes this organizational system.

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