Lynne Wooden, Chris Webb, Cayla Keyes, Natalie DodsonMy colleague Cayla Keyes has a Sunday evening ritual.

As branch manager for INB’s 6th Street Branch, Cayla knows the importance of preparing for the week before it begins. Each week, she uses Microsoft Outlook to schedule all of her meetings, reminders, appointments and family activities. Cayla not only reviews her weekly schedule on Sunday, but also each night before she goes to bed.

“The best thing about using Outlook is that it syncs to my iPhone for easy access on the go,” she said. “I am also able to enter and accept appointments on the go. With three children and my job, it is a lifesaver! I don’t know what I would do without it. It keeps me organized and helps tremendously with time management.”

Jumping right in to the week without thoughtfulness rarely offers value or productivity, and a recent article from Inc. Magazine charged that organizations and individuals who plan ahead see greater success. Too often, the important tasks at hand are overtaken by the seemingly “urgent,” which is a big threat to true productivity.

As the article points out, “weekly planning sessions can be both an individual and an organizational habit. It’s important to make it a habit because we know from research that much, if not most, of what we do each day is reflexive reaction to stimuli.”

At INB, our team experiences the importance of planning as well. We have personal and professional goals, and we have goals as a team. Planning ensures that we are carrying out our long-term vision for INB, fully serving our customers and exceeding our goals.

Making Time to Stay on Target

“I am a fanatic about setting goals,” said Lynne Wooden, vice president of business solutions. “I have monthly, weekly and daily goals. I don’t use any particular tools or apps; I simply have my goals outlined and in front of me on a daily basis to keep myself on target.”

Chris Webb, INB Client Services Consultant, said that planning out her week ahead is done at the end of the previous week, and she also takes the time to focus on accomplishing her goals.

“With my daughter in multiple sports and sports clubs, I definitely have to take the time to plan my week out; typically, I plan my work week as well as my daughter’s week,” Chris said. “I make goals for myself at work on a daily basis. I utilize reminders and calendars on my phone as well as Outlook at work. I also still use a good old magnetic calendar on my refrigerator as well – just in case!”

No Special Tools Required

Natalie Dodson, assistant vice president for mortgage lending, said that she and her husband make it a weekly habit to plan out their days to account for their two kids’ activities and household tasks. Natalie also prepares for open periods of time, like driving to an appointment across the city, with to-do items that can be accomplished, such as returning calls to her mortgage clients.

When it comes to staying organized in her career so that she can focus on the important and not just the urgent, Natalie has devised a personal system using a daily planner for scheduling her mortgage closings with clients, a notebook for daily tasks, and her computer calendar for reminders, appointments and meetings.

“I am pretty old-fashioned,” she laughs. “I make a handwritten to-do list every day, in pencil. I write down the three biggest problem items first – particularly the ones I dread but need to get done. Then sometimes, I have things that carry over to the next day.”

The process of planning ahead can be quick – and after some practice, it’s an easy habit – but this practice sets our team up to stay focused and ensures that we accomplish the important goals we have for our customers and our organization.