9 Organization Strategies for Busy Life Science Professionals
Life science professionals are some of the busiest people on the planet. Between meeting deadlines, traveling for work and handling an ever-growing to-do list, it can be difficult to find time for anything else. According to a Nature study that polled research scientists across the globe, 38% of respondents reported working more than 60 hours each week — and 9% of those reported working more than 80 hours.
But just because you're busy doesn't mean you have to let your organizational skills suffer. In fact, a lack of free time is even more reason to stay organized, as it can save you time and energy in the long run. To help, we've compiled nine doable, effective time-saving strategies for staying organized in the fast-paced life sciences and medical industry.
Stay Prepared for Emergencies
No matter how well you plan, there will always be times when something comes up that requires your attention. Whether it's a last-minute meeting or an unexpected problem, being prepared for emergencies can save you a lot of time and stress.
Keep a list of emergency contacts on hand, as well as a list of tasks that need to be done in case of an emergency. This way, you'll be prepared for anything that comes up and you can focus on solving the problem at hand.
You could even take it a step further and create a system for handling emergencies. For example, you could have a designated person who handles all of the paperwork for last-minute travel plans. This way, you can focus on your work and leave the details to someone else.
Set Aside Time For Planning
One of the best ways to stay organized is to set aside time each day for planning. This can be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or even at the end of the day.
Use this time to review your schedule for the day, week or month ahead. If you have any upcoming deadlines or meetings, make sure they're on your calendar. You should also use this time to review your to-do list and see what needs to be done.
By taking a few minutes each day to plan, you can save yourself a lot of time in the long run. Not only will you be less likely to forget things, but you'll also be able to focus on what's most important each day.
One of the best ways to save time is to automate as many tasks as possible. If there are certain things you do on a daily or weekly basis, see if there's a way to set them up so they happen automatically. This could include setting up automatic bill payments, investing in software that streamlines your workflow or creating templates for commonly used documents.
For medical professionals, streamlining repetitive tasks is key to success as it's important to make the most of every minute spent with patients. There are many great software options available that can automate tasks such as contact management and appointment scheduling, freeing up valuable time to focus on your job.
Manage Your Emails
One of the biggest time-wasters in any profession is dealing with a cluttered inbox. If you're constantly sifting through old emails, it's tough to find the important messages that require your attention. To combat this, set up a system for managing your emails as soon as they come in.
This can involve using folders or labels to prioritize messages, setting aside specific times of day to check and respond to emails, or using a tool like Boomerang to schedule messages.
Invest in a Quality Calendar
A calendar is essential for keeping track of important dates, deadlines and meetings. There are a variety of calendar apps and programs available, so find one that works best for you and your needs. Google Calendar is one of the most common, and it will send you notifications when you have a meeting or event coming up.
If you travel often for work, be sure to invest in a travel planner. This will help you keep track of your upcoming trips, as well as any deadlines or meetings that need to be scheduled around your travel.
Set Up a Filing System
Whether you're dealing with physical or digital files, it's important to have a system in place for organizing and storing them. This will save you time when you need to find a specific document, and it will help you keep track of what you have on hand.
If you work with a lot of files, consider using a tool like Dropbox or Google Drive to store them in the cloud. This way, you can access them from anywhere and share them with colleagues without spending too much time, energy or money.
Track Your Time
To-do lists can be a great way to keep track of your tasks and make sure you're staying on top of everything. There are many different to-do list apps available, so find one that works best for you.
In addition to using a to-do list, consider tracking your time with an app like RescueTime or Toggl. This can be helpful in identifying areas where you're wasting time, and it can help you see how much time you're actually spending on productive tasks.
Organize Your Workspace
For lab workers in the medical industry, having a well-organized workspace can be the difference between a successful study and a complete disaster.
Give yourself an estimate as to how long each task should take you, and then create a schedule. This will help you stay on track and avoid running into time-management problems down the road.
It's also important to have a designated space for each type of tool or piece of equipment. This will help you find what you need quickly and avoid wasting time looking for something that's not where it's supposed to be. Be sure to have all of the supplies you need on hand, and take the time to organize and label your workspace so that everything is easy to find.
Even if you don't work in a lab, be sure to keep your work area clean and organized. This will not only erase the need for a larger, time-consuming clean later, but a clean workspace can help increase focus and concentration.
While it may seem like multi-tasking is a good way to get more done in less time, it can actually be counterproductive. When you're trying to do too many things at once, your brain isn't able to focus on any one task, and you may end up taking longer to complete everything.
According to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, individuals who frequently multitask may be less effective at task switching and more likely to have greater difficulty filtering out irrelevant information.
So, if you want to be more productive, focus on one task at a time and avoid trying to do too many things at once.
The Bottom Line
Don't put off organization because you think you don't have the time. Taking a few minutes to organize can save you hours in the long run. By following these tips, you can make sure you're making the most of your time. These strategies will help you be more productive, efficient and successful in the fast-paced life sciences industry.