5 Ways to Stay Organized & Professional

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Have you been late recently? Forgot to follow up on an important email? The Sharpie notes and scraps of paper that got you through school might not be cutting it in the professional world. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, read on for five quick tips to help you keep track of every detail.

FindSpark to do list

Photo courtesy of *Nom & Malc  

Set a reminder

With all of the things you have on your plate, it’s impossible to remember everything. You’ll only frustrate yourself when details inevitably slip through the cracks. If you’re ready to take down a few of the Post-its wallpapering your room, check out these handy tech tools.

You’ve probably used LinkedIn for connecting with co-workers, references, and the job search. But make sure to take advantage of the site’s reminder feature. Once you’ve read a message, you might not have the time or the answers to reply at the moment. Set a reminder for yourself to reply, choosing from one day, one week, or one month in the future. At that time, you’ll receive a private email reminding you to follow up with your connection. And before you do, make sure to check out our LinkedIn tips for making the most of your interactions on LinkedIn.

Similar reminder apps exist for email and smart phones. Try Boomerang, a Gmail app allowing you to schedule reminders and send emails at a later date, or Wunderlist, a to-do list with social media capabilities.

FindSpark computer

Photo courtesy of Lars Kristian Flem

Keep accounts separate

Spam emails pile up faster than dirty laundry. And it’s easy to get buried in email procrastination if you have to search through Urban Outfitters ads and Groupon deals to respond to important messages. So keep a separate email address for online shopping, news subscriptions, or daily deals. Then, you only have to check this email when you’ve got the time to sift through it.

Achieving “Inbox Zero” might seem like a myth in today’s cyberspace. So don’t purge – prioritize. Instead of trying to clean out your inbox, find your own method for checking, flagging, and following up on emails. Most email accounts have more space than you could ever need, so archive conversations from previous internships and classes. Find the quickest method that works for you and commit to it.

Back it up

You’ve felt the panicked feeling, when the world stutters and your stomach sinks to your knees. Maybe you grasped the air as your phone splashed into the sink. Maybe you cursed the “rainbow-wheel-of-death” spinning for eternity as you failed to save your final project on your Mac. Or maybe you’ve only had to nod in sympathy as you listened to a friend’s tale of woe.

No matter your story, you already know it’s crucial to back up up important info. Use Dropbox, iCloud, or GoogleDrive to save all your current projects in two places, in case of accident or theft. Or, invest in an external hard drive so you can have a physical copy of your files regardless of an Internet connection. Keep your files organized by date in your backup location, so projects are easily accessible.

FindSpark planner

Photo courtesy of electrictuesday

Stay savvy on-the-go

If you’re headed to a meeting, interview, or new coffee shop, take a screenshot of the directions or details from an email. Even if WiFi fails, you won’t be lost or late. And when you arrive, you won’t be scrolling through emails to double-check that you’re in the right place.

And finally, the only way to write professional emails:

Once you click “reply”, remove the contact from the “TO” field. You can add their email address at the last possible second, just before you send your message.  This trick helps you to avoid all sorts of embarrassing email blunders because you’ll always have a chance to double-check for typos, content, and attachments before you click send. Taking a few extra seconds to reflect on an email always pays off in your professional online presence.

If you’re prone to pressing “send” and then immediately noticing a mistake in your email, take advantage of the Gmail Undo feature. In your Gmail settings, click “Labs,” and enable “Undo Send.” This will give you a few precious seconds after sending your email to take it back and make edits.

Now that you’ve heard our five favorite tips – have any shortcuts of your own?  What’s your best way to stay organized and up-to-date? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Julia is a graduate of the University of Virginia. Find her on LinkedIn or on a coffee-fueled adventure.

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