Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The more organized you are, the more productive you will be. No? Well, people say it. Especially me. It’s nearly impossible for me to be productive unless my desk is tidy and my tasks are clearly laid out in front of me on a sheet of paper listed with deadlines, in order of priority. It helps keep me on track to make sure nothing slips through the cracks, and I really love the satisfaction that comes with crossing off something on that list.
If to-do lists aren’t your thing, create an organization system that works well for you, because staying organized during the busy workday when tasks with varying deadlines are constantly being piled on top of you, is key to being productive. So, in honor of “Get Organized Week” this week (yes, that’s really a thing), I’ve put together some other helpful ideas to get you started on the road to organization at work.
- Plan out each day, and avoid non-urgent interruptions. As soon as a new email notification pops up, most of us tend to click on it right away, and doing that with each new email sucks up precious minutes that add up and keep you from completing time-sensitive tasks. Instead, set aside time at the beginning or end of the day to read and respond to emails. And if the urge to check emails is too much to resist, turn off email notifications, or close your email while you work. Same goes for the Internet and social media. Stay off the Internet to avoid losing focus and getting pulled into an Internet black hole, and put your phone away so you won’t be tempted to check social media or your personal emails.
- Reduce meeting times. I know, it’s not always up to you when work meetings are scheduled, but if you limit the time of your meetings, you’ll find that meetings are much more efficient because you cut out the frivolous banter and unnecessary side conversations, If you’re the meeting scheduler, try this and see how it works. If not, suggest it to your boss, or whoever scheduled the meeting, and use this as backup to support your argument: If you reduce an hour spent every day on meetings to 45 minutes, you would have 75 more minutes each week to spend on client work. That’s 300 minutes, or 5 hours, a month!
- Keep your desk clear and toss the junk! A messy desk is a huge distraction. If I’m faced with a messy desk while trying to work, I’m thinking about the mess and how much I want to clean it up, instead of focusing on the task at hand. Also, old meeting agendas, reports, bills, etc, are distractions, so get rid of them! Unless you think you might reeeeeally need them in the future, and in that case, store them in a folder in a drawer, or in a file holder to the side of your desk or on the floor.
- De-clutter your email. First step, start at the back and work your way up. Do you have emails older than a year in your inbox? Has it proved useful to you within the last six months? No? Archive it! Or, create a sub-folder for it, so it doesn’t clog your inbox. Next, check out your email subscriptions. Do you actually read all of them, or are some of them automated emails from companies you accidentally agreed to receive emails from? One word: unsubscribe. Also, color code emails. There was a time when I was working with five different clients, and it was dizzying to keep track of all their emails, so I assigned each client a color, and when an email popped up from them, it was in that color, making it easier for me to organize and prioritize my correspondence.
How do you stay organized at work?