Do you ever walk into work, sit down, and immediately feel overwhelmed with all the work you have to do? Your brain is buzzing with a million thoughts – what to do first, how to do certain tasks, how to generate better results, etc.

If so, you’re most certainly not alone. But have heart! Here are a few tips for staying organized and efficient, particularly as a busy association professional:

1. Make a to-do list in order of priority

Now you probably already have a to-do list of some sort, but if it’s a mental to-do list, I highly encourage you to write it down. And not only that, but structure that list in order of importance. What are the 3 – 5 tasks that absolutely HAVE to get done today? Put those at the top, and one-by-one, work your way through them. Don’t let the remainder of the list stress you out. Yes, it’d be nice to get everything done in one day, but if you can’t get to the items on the bottom of the list, just know, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve done the essentials and tomorrow’s a new day.

2. Start on your hardest tasks first

You only have so much brain energy in a day. And for every decision you make, you’re using some of that brain energy – it’s called decision fatigue. That said, focus on your hardest tasks first when your mind is clear and you can make quick decisions. (Yes, even if you’re not a morning person.)

Tip: To give your brain extra energy in the morning, prep for the day the night before. Get your outfit ready, pack a lunch, gas up your car if needed, etc. Sure, it sounds “elementary,” but here’s the thing: It’s not meant to just save you time – it’s meant to conserve brain energy. The less decisions you have to make in the morning, the less stressed (and thus, more refreshed) you’ll feel walking into work.

3. Make a separate list for random thoughts/ideas

This happens to me all the time. I’ll be working on something, and then all of a sudden, a random thought or idea comes to me. I don’t want to lose that thought or idea, so I switch gears – and then bam! The next 30 minutes have slipped away.

To prevent those types of distractions, consider creating a spreadsheet specifically for random thoughts and ideas. You can even segment that spreadsheet if that will make your life easier. For example, create a sheet for newsletter ideas, social media ideas, event ideas, etc. Then refer back to those ideas when you have some extra time.

Note: Feel free to write down personal tasks as well. If you need to run by the store after work, make a little note of that, then put it aside. That way it’s out of your brain and one less thing you have to remember. More brain energy for work!

4. Allow yourself some down time

As an association professional, you wear many hats and “busy” is a constant. You probably spend many evenings working late, and sometimes, that’s simply unavoidable. But if you want to remain truly efficient at your organization, you need to allow yourself some down time. Step away from that big project or problem you’ve been struggling with, and allow yourself an evening to relax. Spend some time with your family, watching TV, reading a book, etc. Your brain needs it and you’ll be able to face that project or problem in the morning with fresh eyes and a clear mind.

Still feel like you’re drowning when it comes to association management? It might be time for a little sidekick, AKA, an association management system. What is an AMS, you ask? See for yourself in our free guide below!