I am a person who derives deep satisfaction from filing away paperwork and knowing where every scrap of paper belongs. I use highlighters to color code my grocery lists. I take a lot of pride in my organizational skills. And I really, really love Post-Its.
Earlier this year I started wearing more hats at work and felt like I was drowning in paper. I had reached a point in which I had so much clutter that it was preventing me from being productive. Even my productivity apps were working against me. I decided it was time to wean myself off of Post-Its and traditional to-do lists and try a few new things to help tame the digital overwhelm, cut any duplicated efforts, and focus only on the apps that worked the best for me.
Here are my top five tools for being the most organized person in the office:
Google Calendar. This doesn't pertain to files as much as it pertains to keeping my life organized. I like to joke, if it's not on my Google Calendar, it's not happening. I've test-driven different systems, but the Google Calendar is my tried and true. When it comes to staying on top of my appointments, meetings, and events, it has to be digital. I need to be able to get an invite in my inbox and immediately upload the date (even if it’s tentative) with location plus notes/details in my calendar and have access to it on my phone at all times.
Trello. This where I get to talk about my love affair with Post-it Notes and how heavily I rely on them. They're incredibly flexible, you can jot down tasks, create a checklist, organize belongings, and stick them on anything and everything. There are apps to digitize Post-its, but nothing captures their flexibility…except for Trello. It's built around brightly colored boards (also called “Kanban”) and cards that are like digital Post-it Notes. I can drag the cards around, jot down notes and checklists, and add colored labels or photos to keep things organized. I can even toss old cards in the trash when I’m done (and do the same celebratory dance when I get to toss a physical to do list. It’s just more ecofriendly…). You can share boards with team members and it even has an app for your phone that syncs with your desktop version!
Dropbox. Hi, my name is Alex and I'm a Dropbox addict. It started off innocently enough. I'd upload files as necessary and then delete them when I reached the capacity of free storage. I ultimately upgraded my account to the Dropbox Pro and it's arguably some of the best money I've spent in my adult life. Being away from a computer can cause me so much anxiety when I don't have access to a file and need it. Dropbox 100% solves this problem as I always have my phone and whatever I upload is synced wherever I am.
Here's why Dropbox works for me:
- I upload all the files (photos, documents, etc.) that I'm working on or will need (both professional and personal.)
- I keep an updated resume, so I can email it off to someone in a jiff.
- All my photos! I hate not having a photo because it's on my computer and not my laptop, or phone. I have all my photos and videos organized and at my fingertips.
- Group folders are perfect for collaboration. Whether it's a spot where everyone can drop/share vacation photos or a place my manager and I can upload documents, it's nice for both to have access.
- I can send links to certain files and folders. I can't tell you how much time, energy, and email storage this saves me when I need to send out an item for approval!
Carousel. Carousel is a product of Dropbox and brilliant. Never. Lose. A. Photo. Again. If your phone gets stolen or you drop it in water, you can rest assured knowing it is completely backed up. The best part is that once you have your camera roll backed up, you can even free up the space on your phone since you essentially have a duplicate camera roll on this app, and it is completely accessible on your phone. No more storage issues!
1Password. I can't get enough of this app. I use it daily, sometimes hourly. I have so many passwords for so many different applications, websites, and logins. It was so out of control that I was having to reset my password all the time. I also change my password for sensitive things (banking, email, etc.) frequently, but I was forgetting what my new passwords were. This has been a game changer in terms of keeping track of my passwords in a completely secure way.
With the help of these things, my life is way more organized online—and yours could be too!