So you’ve recently joined a company and you’re new to everything around you. Perhaps you changed careers and you are now deep into unfamiliar waters. These can all be very intimidating to the uninitiated and inexperienced.
One problem that everyone will face in the workplace is the constant stream of information around you. Information that, most of the time, is crucial to the company and your product’s success.
There are lots of ways to circumnavigate the ocean of knowledge in the workplace. Here is how I manage mine;
Lists. Lots of checklists. Day-to-day, a goal-oriented approach helps get clutter out of the way and clarity take center stage:
Start your day creating a short list of things that need to get done. It doesn’t have to be complete. The activity reinforces the importance of each task for the day ahead. Model your day around this list.
The Note app on your phone is a good tool for keeping this in practice. Personally, I use Evernote, but there are other wonderful alternatives like Google Keep and Trello. Stick with sticky notes if you’re the paper-and-pen type.
When new information comes, write them down. In a new note, or an item in your task list.
Make sure that you have a good way of categorizing your information. Personally, a stream of people and projects work great for me. Write down ideas as they come. Write down important information as the conversation happens.
Starting with an unstructured format is OKAY. You don’t have to create a format for your notes before writing them. You’ll realize that the notes will take form over time.
Learn to weed out what’s important. Of course, not everything is important. One good guideline to follow is to ask yourself, “will the information i’m about to write, get me to my goal?”. If it doesn’t, your notes don’t deserve it.
End your day by checking your list. As tasks get done, make sure to reward yourself by ticking it off your list. Personally, this gives a great sense of accomplishment. A feeling of something has been done is a powerful motivator throughout the day.
Make it a habit. Do it everyday. It will grow with you. In a few weeks, go back, review your notes and lists and see the improvement you’ve achieved.
Learn to relax. Don’t penalize yourself when you miss something. We are not perfect people. When you feel that you did not accomplish what you set out to do for today, push them for tomorrow. Keep in mind that this should not be used as an excuse to be lazy.
I hope my experience can nudge you towards better information management in your day-to-day life.