Best ways to stay organized as a first year analyst?

What are some of the best ways you've found to stay organized as a first year analyst? How do you organize your computer files and emails? How do you take notes when in a meeting with an Associate or VP? What items do are essential to keep at your desk?

Any tips or advice would be appreciated and it certainly doesn't have to be related to the questions above? Thanks.

Comments (28)

Mar 6, 2016

bump

Mar 7, 2016

Curious to hear what others say because I could definitely improve my org skills, but here's my basic MO..Files are organized by type of work then client, so separate folders for Pitches, Transaction or Internal work, then sub-folders within each for individual clients. Also, I have a separate legal pad for every deal. Pisses some people off but it makes referencing old notes so much easier.

In terms of note taking in either internal or client-facing meetings, I try to write literally everything relevant that is said. It can be a bit arduous, but I've found that trying to filter information while receiving it leads to misunderstood or completely missed communication. I'll typically take a bit of time after each meeting to get all of my thoughts/notes into order. This works best for me, but its definitely a matter of personal preference dependent on how you receive and process information.

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Mar 9, 2016

For emails I have Active, Prospect, Closed folders, which is pretty straight forward. I typically archive the announced/closed deals and prospects if it doesn't appear to be going anywhere. I'll sort emails into their respective folders after I've read them.

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Mar 11, 2016

A few things that have helped me.

Inbox has an "action" sub folder where I file any email needing follow up, response, etc. It's effectively my don't forget to do list.

"Reference" folder for key info.

I have a "read" folder too, but I don't use it well.

Each deal email folder has a"key docs" subfolder for critical emails (eg with critical attachments), CYA emails, etc. Anything I'm likely to need to refer to during our after the deal.

I have a paper to do doc which has a table identifying deals I'm on, key stats (EBITDA, tranche $ and multiples, approval deadline, approval discretion, initials of team members on the deal - note the key stats for lev fin deals, reflecting that's what I'm looking at) and key tasks/work streams i'm responsible for. Second half of the page is non-deal tasks (work and personal). Page lay out is landscape and margins maxed. My conference call number/code is in the footer fire reference. Time stamp for last printed auto updating field in the header.

Stapled behind that pager is a second page with a grid of this month and next month from excel, key dates marked, with deal stats for my deals on the side. Some deals aren't in USD and I have a macro that grabs latest fx rates off there internet and converts non-USD deals to USD.

I take these two pages to meetings, scrawl notes on the back, tasks on the front page, check dates and fx on page 2. It's my goto source for checking what I should be doing next, along with the action subfolder. Handy for taking quick note when I'm on the phone or in meetings. I'll update and reprint the to do page 1-2 times a day.

My PC wallpaper is a custom image of key data, phone numbers, etc that I often need as reference. When I have to check these, I can just windows+M to see them. I usually have multiple windows open, so rarely see my desktop otherwise. I can also Windows+M and it looks like I'm working on a work doc.

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Mar 9, 2016

surprised people put in this much effort. i had no folders in my email inbox at all and basically took notes on a stack of random notepads that i had at my desk and never used after.

you're a monkey. all you need to focus on is turning retarded formatting comments really fast and not using your mouse in excel. let the associate worry about process. you don't get paid enough to have to think.

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Mar 11, 2016

For everything I do, I keep a notebook. It doesn't matter whether it's for any kind of work, it serves as a running todo list. Every page is dated at the top. Any time I end a day in the middle of a page, I scribble out a few lines and put the next day's date in the middle of the scribble out. This way I can always refer to what needs to be done. The notebook has saved my ass more times than not. Even if it means transcribing from an email to it or jotting things down in a meeting, it's saved my ass more times than I can count.

As far as data files, all of my work is organized by Client, followed by Client Project Type (Active project, Pitch, Etc.) and each subfolder is then organized by current project. All of my files are saved by Project Name - Date (in DD-MM-YY format) - Revision Number. This way I can always refer to which iteration is being edited.

For emails, I keep a system setup similar to @SSits this way I can manage thigns more effectively.

Mar 11, 2016

Don't throw anything out. Ever.

Mar 11, 2016

Thanks! bumpp

Mar 11, 2016

So true- dont throw anything out. and keep a to do list with everything pple have asked you to do..even little things that dont have a high priority.

Mar 11, 2016
flyout1:

So true- dont throw anything out. and keep a to do list with everything pple have asked you to do..even little things that dont have a high priority.

Keeping a constant to-do list takes a lot of discipline, but the next-best option is to create a to-do list the night before if you know tomorrow is going to be really hectic.

Mar 11, 2016

got it. and you would suggest keeping things organized for your analyst's/associate's convenience (sticky notes, section dividers, print outs of where you pulled a certain #)?

Mar 11, 2016

bump

Mar 11, 2016

I second writing a to-do list the night before, even if you are rushing to get out of work, you are better off jotting down stuff that needs to get done before you leave, lest you forget it the next day

Mar 11, 2016

There isnt one single way of doing anything. My associate's desk looks like it just went through Katrina. Yet, whenever you ask him for anything, hes able to literally put his hand into a giant pile of papers and pull out exactly what you asked him for...looks like a complete disaster but it works best for him. I dont suggest it though.

The goal is to never ever lose any of your backup/sources for anything you are working on, and make sure whenever some asks you for anything, you can grab it within a few seconds. Keeping organized will take about an extra 10-20 minutes a day to do well....but it will save you HOURS in the future.

Mar 11, 2016

Full-time analysts have their own way of doing things, but for a summer analyst with no experience in banking:

Don't ever delete e-mails.

Print everything. On calls, you should be looking through a physical copy of the document, not a virtual copy. Label the cover with the date you printed it, who sent it, etc. Keep everything in a project related folder. When you go to a conference room, bring all documents related to a deal, even if you don't think you need them. Bring a copy of the working group list if there is one.

Use comments in excel liberally, especially for EBITDA addbacks. Nothing worse than being asked how you calculated a number and having to scramble to find back-up.

Ask questions often - nobody expects you to know everything. Better to annoy someone with a question up front than to screw something up and have them think you're an idiot unworthy of an offer later.

(caveat: try to think about the problem before asking the question. A summer once asked me how to get an excel table into powerpoint without changing the dimensions and I realized that he lacked a fundamental understanding of spatial relations. Not impressive.)

Mar 11, 2016

I would suggest the two things mentioned above: keep a to-do list and print EVERYTHING out. First, the to-do list is not difficult to keep at all -- I have a mini-notebook that is strictly used as a checklist. I write down quick descriptions for each task as they roll in and just cross them out as I complete. This really helps when you have a whole shitload of things to get done -- you take a look at the list and knock off the easiest things first ("low-hanging fruit," as our favorite associate/VP would like to call it) and then get down to the time-consuming crap. I can honestly say that this has helped me out on countless occasions -- it's easy to forget very minor, simple tasks at the end of a 16-hour day, but not forgetting to print and leave something for your boss or send out an email to the team makes you look like you're on top of things. And all the guys I work for (from associate through MD) love coming over to my desk and seeing my checklist -- it gives them the impression that I'm organized, efficient and won't screw things up -- they may bust my balls for it (and hell, it's pretty freakin' dorky), but I never forget tasks and I am the most organized and efficient analyst in the group.

As a summer, definitely print everything out that you reference (i.e. if you're spreading comps, print the 10-Q/10-K/8-K where you're getting financials from -- just the financials, not the whole filing) and keep it in some form of folder/cabinet/organized way so you know where it is. Some of the guys I work with actually PDF and save to the drive so they don't have endless clutter at their desks -- whatever works. After about six months, we get leeway so we don't have to print EVERYTHING out (unless it's something out of the ordinary), but for the most part, associates trust we can spread comps and if it has to be checked, we know the right source of data.

Mar 11, 2016

thanks for the advice everyone! ill be sure to have the checklist and print everything out this summer. any further thoughts?

Mar 11, 2016

I take notes...LOTS of notes. So much information coming at me all the time I have to write stuff down in order to make sure I don't forget anything.

Then, I prioritize my tasks to make sure that things are done in a timely manner.

Mar 11, 2016

- Calendar invites / reminders
- Microsoft post-it notes app (bold if needed today, cross out if deliverable was sent, delete when complete)
- Write myself an email, flag it, leave it in my inbox
- Flag all emails in inbox in general that you need to attend to; get them out of inbox as soon as it's no longer applicable

Mar 11, 2016

When I had a paper and pen notebook, I'd use an alligator clip to clip pages between the cover and latest to do page. I'd add stuff to the to do page as tasks came up, take notes on pages following the to do page, eventually create a new to do page, re-clip and keep moving through the notepad. I found this helped a lot with keeping track of what I had to do.

When taking notes, anything that requires action from me would be marked with a square box. Post-meeting, I could identify quickly from the notes what my follow up tasks were. When the task was done, tick off the box (either in the notes or on the to do list if I'd written it up there).

Where someone else was responsible for following up on something that I needed, I'd mark it with a triangle.

I use a Samsung 8" tablet and the LectureNotes app now, so I used separate notebooks in that for notes and to do, with the same functionality.

For in-box management, I have an "Action" subfolder where I file any e-mail that needs to be read late or followed up. This also functions like a to do list.

Finally, onscreen stickynote via C:\Windows\System32\StikyNot.exe

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Mar 11, 2016

www.franklinplanner.com
outlook
not multitasking

Mar 11, 2016

I use the hours tracking software from Replicon for the sake of hours tracking and management. The tool is quite an intuitive one that meets the desired standard to make out the things.

Mar 11, 2016

interested as well

Mar 11, 2016
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Mar 11, 2016
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