6 Ways to Stay Organized at Work
With so many things to get done in your 9 -5 job, there’s a lot that can get lost in the shuffle —if you don’t stay organized. The truth is your organizational skills say a lot about you. Not only does it affect your performance and focus, but it also affects how others perceive you. Poor organizational skills may even call your value to the team into question.
If you look around only to find that your co-workers are killing it while you’re struggling to stay afloat, you may need to take a step back, look at your organizational skills and reassess how you go about your day.
Start with an organizational self-assessment and ask yourself a few questions:
- Could I be doing something more efficiently?
- What is taking up the most time in my day?
- Could there be an easier way to do this?
- Is this routine really working for me?
If any of these questions resonate with you, you might have to wipe the slate clean and rebuild the organizational foundation of your day-to-day. Ahead, we’ll take a look at six ways to stay organized at work.
Create a Routine
Consistency is key to staying organized at work. Essentially, routines are a roadmap of sorts that help to keep you on track to get things done. When you’re creating your routine, make sure it’s realistic and don’t overcomplicate it. Also, remember that things tend to get disorganized when you color outside the lines you drew yourself. So, while it’s important to stick to your routine as much as possible, flexibility is important as well.
Keep It Simple
The point of being organized is to make your life easier, so don’t get caught up in the details. There is such a thing as being too organized, and if you find that you’re spending too much time fine-tuning the details, you may want to take a step back, breathe and re-prioritize. Your day should be spent on your tasks at hand, not ensuring that the lines on your whiteboard are perfectly straight. Perfectionism takes up too much time, and it ultimately defeats the purpose of even having a system in place.
In order to stay organized at work, prioritizing your workload is crucial to your overall success. Deadlines and meetings are a part of most employment deals and prioritizing your to-do list is the simplest way to ensure that you’re holding up your end of the bargain. Setting your priorities for the day doesn’t have to be a long-drawn-out affair; in its simplest form, it boils down to two steps:
- Write down your daily tasks
- Rank them by order of importance (by time or revenue, your choice)
You may not realize it, but by prioritizing your daily tasks you can also dial down your stress. For example, if the items on your list take a little longer than expected, that’s okay. By prioritizing, you attended to the most pressing matters first, so if one or two things get bumped over to the next day, you can rest easy knowing that nothing is going off the rails anytime soon.
Use Email Systems Efficiently
Using the existing calendar linked to your email account is an excellent way to stay on top of meetings, tasks, and deadlines. These systems are fully integrated and designed to work seamlessly, so there’s minimal effort required on your part.
Very often, meeting invites are added automatically, or at a minimum, it would require one click to link invites to your calendar. Moreover, you can easily go into the settings, set a reminder for your entries, and give yourself a heads-up for important deadlines or meetings. If you decide to use your email calendar, be sure to ONLY use your email calendar—nix the pen, paper, or sticky notes. Flip-flopping between two systems is a recipe for disaster and disorganization.
If you’re on Gmail, there’s one function, in particular that’s infinitely helpful for staying on top of your inbox — the snooze function. While your goal may be to get to “inbox zero” each day, some emails don’t require action at that moment, and others may not be pertinent to today. Enter the snooze function. This incredible option lets you choose a date and time to circle back to an email. The email remains “hidden” until the appointed time for you to deal with it. Nice.
Figure Out What Works for You
Inbox Zero – “Inbox zero” is not for everyone. Just because someone has an empty inbox at 5PM every day, that doesn’t mean you need to as well. Whether you like to keep every single email or you need a clean slate each morning, the right answer is the one that works for you.
Paper vs. digital – While the world is leaving paper behind and leaning heavily into everything digital, it’s up to you whether or not you want to embrace it. If you like the sensibilities of paper and pen, then go for it; if you prefer to keep everything in digital format and easily accessible on your phone, that’s fine too. The only caveat here is that you should pick one medium and stick with it or else risk overcomplicating things. Here again, you have to make a clear choice; toggling between two systems could easily translate to missed deadlines or meetings.
Talk to Others
While life in the digital age leaves no stone unturned, there is something to be said for getting back to basics, when it comes to communication. When you fire off an email in search of answers, not only are you adding to your inbox clutter, but it takes time for the recipient to read/acknowledge the email and respond to you. So, instead of emailing, consider picking up the phone or walking down the hall for your answers. One-on-one connections can be incredibly valuable. Not only does it foster better relations with your co-workers, but you can get the answers you need in real-time. Moreover, you’ll likely see a bump in your productivity, and there will be far fewer emails to clean up at the end of the day.
When you’re trying to stay organized at work, don’t forget to check in with yourself every so often. Holding yourself accountable is also an important part of your success. Remember, too, that the organizational framework you have in place today may not work a few months from now or a year down the line, and it will need tweaking from time to time. If you don’t think you can look at it objectively, get yourself an accountability partner of sorts. Your boss or supervisor can be a good sounding board to assess where you nailed it and where you missed the mark.
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