staying organized at work

Staying Organized in the Workplace

Being organized in the workplace can mean the difference between ending your day feeling accomplished or overwhelmed.  It can also mean gaining and keeping the trust and confidence of those you are serving in your business role.  Taking the time to review your daily routine and adjust where needed will give you the capability to tackle each day with confidence and enthusiasm. Work will become an enjoyment instead of a source of great stress.

Many believe that there is no time in their busy schedule to effectively create organization in their work. They continually jump from one task to another, often not planning sufficiently to complete what needs to be accomplished. Setting aside time to organize work will ensure a more effective, efficient, and calmer workday. Stress will decrease and productivity will increase.

There are simple ways to begin to organize your daily work life:

Declutter

When your workstation or computer is cluttered it can make it more difficult to stay organized during your workday.  Take time to arrange your workstation and computer, removing unnecessary clutter. Part of staying organized is ensuring your workstation and computer will create a calm place to go to work and allow your mind to focus on your daily tasks. It will also allow you to find what you need to accomplish your work quickly, which will increase your productivity.

Don’t Rely on Your Memory Alone

As responsibilities increase, it becomes more difficult to remember important details we need to recall.  Instead of relying on your memory alone, write it down. Use calendars to remember important dates, meetings, or tasks needing to be completed.  Use electronic or paper sticky notes to quickly jot down important information you need to access; keep a notebook close to you so you can write down items that need to be accomplished, or you can create spreadsheets to track tasks and follow up on those items as needed.  Use color coding to further organize these tools and track the items by their priority or type of task. For instance, you can color-code your calendar, so all your meetings are in blue, interviews are in green, tasks are scheduled in yellow, etc. The colors allow for your eyes to quickly distinguish what is expected throughout the day. 

Manage your Emails

Take control of your emails, do not allow them to control you. Getting numerous emails can be an overwhelming and time-consuming part of your day. You can manage your emails more successfully by scheduling blocks of time throughout the day dedicated to reading and prioritizing them. When reviewing your emails, delete those which are not necessary to keep and create folders to file emails that need to access in the future. Designate a folder assigned as To Be Completed to track items needing completion. Color coding your emails is a quick way to visually see where that email falls in importance.

You may not have time to immediately respond entirely to each email.  If you receive an email that will require more than a few minutes, respond to the sender as soon as possible letting them know the email was received and communicate when you anticipate you can complete their request.  Make sure you schedule the request in your calendar, so it does not slip through the cracks.  You will find by doing this, your workload will decrease because the sender will not feel it necessary to send follow-up emails on those tasks, as they will already be aware of when to expect a response.   

Take Breaks

You may believe working without taking breaks creates a more productive day when realistically it decreases your productivity and can create disorganization in your workday. Taking breaks allows your brain to rest by giving you time to breathe and refocus. You will be fresher and more engaged when you return to your tasks. 

Limit Distractions

Distraction can be the biggest culprit in keeping you from being organized. The constant notification on your emails, instant messages, and even the personal app notifications on your phone take your attention away from the items you are working to complete. Other distractions could include important items coming to mind or being communicated to you throughout the day. You can limit these distractions by muting notifications and scheduling time throughout the day to go back and check them.

Set Deadlines for Yourself

Setting deadlines for yourself and sticking to your schedule will help you plan so that your tasks are completed correctly and in a timely manner.  By doing this you will feel more organized and able to carry out the multiple items coming at you.

Batch Similar Tasks Together

When scheduling your day, look for tasks similar in nature or have the same time frame to complete, such as tasks that only take 5-10 minutes to complete. Batch these items together on your schedule and you will find you can check off many items from your list in one sitting.  Finishing multiple items in this manner will help be more organized and productive in your day. You will be able to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed when smaller tasks build up.

Prepare the Technology you use

Take time each evening or morning to charge any electronic devices you use during your workday. Devices could include a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Preparing beforehand to make certain batteries are fully charged and ready will allow you to promptly access the devices when needed. It is also important to make certain all your devices are fully updated with the newest information available.

Create a Routine

Do a quick review of the items you do each day and create a routine with the ones that occur on a regular basis.  When you create a routine, you will be able to know what to expect in your schedule and it will reduce the need to find time to complete them at a later date. The time will already be set aside.   

Work / Life Balance

Life does not just consist of work.  It is equally important to be organized outside of work as it is to be organized within work. Add your personal tasks to your work calendar so you have a visual reminder of upcoming activities outside of work hours.  By doing this you will make sure you schedule appropriately for appointments and events. It will also allow you to schedule appropriately to be able to end your workday when needed when personal items need your attention. 

End of the Day Review

End your day in review.   Schedule time at the end of each day to review your day. Determine if any items were not completed and move them to your next day’s timeline. Don’t forget the option of delegating tasks, when possible, if you foresee an inability to complete them in a timely manner.

Spending a little time now organizing yourself in your work and home life will open doors to a brighter work experience in the future.  You will see time open to do the things that before you never had time to work into your busy day.  

Author: Letrisha Pulido 

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