Organization is crucial to productivity. When it fails, you're in trouble. Big trouble. Productivity drops, time management is unmanageable, stress is at an all-time high and life sucks in general. Why though? Why did it fail? And how do you make it work again? It's tough when a habit or a routine no longer works but sometimes it happens and the only thing to do is adapt. Check out some of these potential reasons for why your old method of organization is no longer working and tips to make the fix you desperately need.
Your Workload Changes: Have you had an increase or decrease in workload recently? An increased amount of workload would have a greater impact than a decrease. This is something I've recently dealt with and it's taken three weeks to get back into a routine. Yes, three weeks. If this is your likely culprit, follow these steps to help get back on track. First, list out all of your responsibilities. What are weekly tasks, what are as-needed tasks, what are daily tasks. List them out, assign them their proper due dates where you can. For example, schedule social media content every Monday. Plan social media content every Friday. Follow-up with email requests daily. Getting the regular tasks organized makes it much easier to organize project-based tasks as them come. Use a task organization product like Asana or ToDoist. I use Asana for everything and it keeps me on deadline and organized. Once you've organized all of your new tasks and assignments and assigned them regular deadlines, you will most likely keep up with everything on schedule and get back into a routine with the heavier workload. You'll learn how much time everything takes so you can plan appropriately at the beginning of the week.
You Changed Careers: Have you changed careers lately? Maybe you're in the same career but your responsibilities have changed. This is a significant adjustment to deal with because you're no longer used to the tasks at hand. You need to learn all over again how much time each assignment and project takes to properly organize your day-to-day routine. First, give yourself a break. There is an adjustment period to any situation like this one. Start by organizing your deadlines. Figure out what your weekly, daily and as-needed tasks are to organize your schedule. Start working in order of deadline and note how much time each one takes you. This will tremendously help you in the future. There are plenty of timing apps that can help with this. I personally use Toggl which allows me to micromanage my timing so I can see exactly how much time each task takes me.
You Have More Appointments Out Of The Office and Less Time At The Desk: This is unfortunately something that cannot be helped or avoided when you are in a client-facing career, a career heavy in events, etc. This is an issue I am currently facing. I went from having a few weekly phone calls to a few weekly phone calls plus a few weekly meetings and events I need to staff. That, obviously, takes time away from the computer to get actual assignments and work done. Solution: micro-manage your time. Tell friends and family "no" when they want to have lunch or schedule something during your business hours. More importantly, set strict business hours, whatever they might be. Mine are strictly from 8am to 5:30pm. Normally I work later than this but 5:30pm is my ideal stopping time to start making dinner. If you recognize those hours personally, the people in your life will begin to as well. Once those hours are established, map out the time you have to actually get things done and block it out. Also, don't forget travel time. That can sometimes take out an extra 1-2 hours of time to get things done. If you have four hours on Tuesday to work, plan exactly what you are going to do during those four hours and don't go off-schedule unless it's an emergency. This will ensure you are giving everything the amount of time it needs to be complete and be completed well. If you're still struggling to get things done, start asking for help. Say no to events or meetings that you don't necessarily need to staff or simply don't have the time. We are only human and there are only so many hours within a day. The people you work with and/or for will understand that.
There are a lot of other reasons why your old methods of organizing have failed. Maybe you've outgrown them or they're outdated. You're becoming too efficient for them. You're no long using them to their full potential or they've reached their full potential which is no longer enough for what you need. The important thing is to recognize that something isn't working anymore. Find out what the problem is and find a solution. Adapt and move on. Once you've done that, it will be smooth sailing all over again.