It seems like a no-brainer — stay organized and you won’t lose important documents, forget information about your clients, or miss meetings. But sometimes we take organization for granted. So, I’ve put together a refresher on some key everyday habits that my team at Idea Grove and I rely on.
The tools and methods described below are neither innovative nor groundbreaking, but you may be surprised to find how effective they are when used correctly. It’s particularly important for PR and marketing agency professionals to be organized in order to ensure productivity and results for clients—but these skills and habits can be useful for any business professional.
Write it down, even if your memory is a steel trap
When I first started working at agencies, B2B and technology PR were not something I had a lot of experience in. But what an invigorating challenge, right? Even though it may seem unnecessary, I wrote everything down. This helped reinforce everything I was trying to absorb and allowed me to memorize important information. I still take detailed notes in all meetings. Even if I never end up referring back to these notes, they’re there in case of emergency.
So why is this so critical in our industry? B2B and technology clients have niche products and solutions that can be very technical. To provide a lot of value to our clients, we must understand their offerings inside and out. This means digesting everything that clients tell us and being able to refer back to those details in future conversations.
Write down the details about the type of technology or solution that each client offers and keep this posted by your desk. Daily reminders are the key to truly absorbing this type of information.
Take great meeting notes and share them with your team. This will help you all stay on the same page (and teammates can point out anything you might have missed).
Keep a list of industry-specific terms, acronyms, and abbreviations. This will ensure that your client doesn’t have to play translator for you every time you meet.
Become best friends with Inbox Zero
Another way to keep information organized is to file your emails. It seems like a tedious task, but you will thank yourself later when you need to quickly locate information for a specific client.
Create a filing system that works for you. There’s no right way to do this, but you have to be comfortable with your chosen system or you won’t use it.
Use rules. This is a great way to deal with emails that you receive regularly but don’t need to view right away. For example, perhaps you’re subscribed to a daily industry newsletter that you catch up on every three days. Set up a rule to route those emails to a folder that you can bring up at your convenience.
As soon as you receive an email with important details that you may need to refer to later, file it away in the correct folder.
Don’t keep anything in your inbox unless the email requires your follow-up or a specific action item. File it as soon as the task is complete.
Don’t underestimate the to-do list
Some people don’t need a to-do list to keep track of things and get work done. Or rather, some people think they don’t need a to-do list. If you’re anything like me, to-do lists help you organize your thoughts and prioritize. Plus, there is a certain joy in being able to check off items as you complete them — such a feeling of accomplishment! If you don’t currently use to-do lists, it’s time to get started.
Separate the tasks by client. This way, you’ll be able to quickly refer to your list and get a picture of what you have on your plate for a certain client. Organizing your notes this way can be helpful to reference during client status calls.
Prioritize important tasks and upcoming deadlines by highlighting. If you want to really take it to the next level, use your own custom color-coding system (red means urgent, green is for writing projects, and so on).
If you have ongoing tasks, don’t write them down every week. Keep a to-do list just for long-term projects. You may even have multiple long-term to-do lists for varying lengths of time (think goals for this quarter, six-month goals, etc.). Bonus points for keeping these to-dos somewhere visible so you can be reminded of them on a regular basis.
So yes, these methods may seem simple or even unnecessary. But if you’re on a mission to become more organized, give them a chance. Your client will thank you when you’re able to recall minute details about their solutions without breaking a sweat and meet deadlines with ease. You’ll always be able to rest assured that co-workers can rely on you when they’re down to the wire — and that you can rely on yourself.
Katie is responsible for managing account and client service for Idea Grove clients in a diverse set of spaces, including transportation and logistics, marTech, SaaS, cybersecurity, IT infrastructure, eLearning and cloud computing.