When it comes to productivity, a little organization in your workspace can go a long way. Here are a few quick tips to help you get organized at work.
Plan for Success
- Define Your Goals: Getting started on the path to organization can be overwhelming. Start by creating a written list of your top priorities. Once you’ve defined these priorities, you can use the following tips to achieve them.
- Create a Mental Gameplan: Spend a few minutes at the start of each day to reflect on what you need to accomplish. Ask yourself, “What do I need to accomplish to stay on track with my top priorities?”
- Write Your To-Do List: Start with the “have to do’s” and work your way down to the “would like to do’s.” Incorporate weekly priorities that will help you accomplish your top goals. Use this to-do list as a guide for your daily activities, referring back to it to check off tasks.
Organize Your Space
- De-Clutter: Make a dedicated time to clean out your workspace and get rid of anything obsolete are anything that is no longer useful. Do you have over-sized items that you don’t use for their intended purposes? Ask yourself if you need these items, or will in the near future. If not, rid these items from your workspace.
- Keep Your Work Surface Clear: Cleaning off your workspace allows your mind to have a “clean slate” and focus on the tasks at hand. Make it a part of your daily ritual to ensure your desk space is clean at the end of each day. You’ll be much more productive the next time you sit down to work if your area is clean and organized with an ample amount of space to work.
- Invest in Organization: If your office doesn’t have the storage you need, buy it. Getting and staying organized is much easier when you have the right stuff to do it. You don’t have to spend a lot of money – clear storage totes, cardboard file boxes, Ziploc baggies, and drawer organizers are all inexpensive options for keeping things neat and tidy.
- Manage Inbox and Voicemail Messages: Take two or three minutes at the end of each day to clean out your email inbox and voicemail messages. That way, when you need to find a message, you won’t have to wade through mounds of useless information to retrieve it.
- Create Contact and Distribution Lists: If you frequently send emails to the same person (or groups of people), contact and distribution lists can help you avoid retyping the same information over and over.
- Make Friends with the Calendar: Choose what type of calendar suits your needs best – cell phone, email, desk calendar – and then use it! Make sure it’s handy whenever you’re scheduling appointments, planning your day, or sorting through papers. You’ll be surprised at how much paper you can eliminate by simply transferring important dates directly to your calendar.
- Use the “Smart” in Your Smartphone: A smartphone can be better than paper-and-pen organization systems. Data entered on your smartphone is searchable, and you can easily program reminders for important items. Using your cell phone makes it possible to stay in touch with business contacts and keep things organized, even on-the-go.
More Organizational Tips
- Set a Time Limit: Start work conversations, meetings, and phone calls by setting a time limit. Let people know how much time you have, so you have a better chance of addressing everything you need to cover in the allotted time.
- Accomplish Unpleasant Tasks First: Avoid the procrastination trap by tackling the tough stuff first. This makes the rest of your day more manageable, and who doesn’t love that?
- Write It Down: A short pencil is better than a long memory. If you need to remember it, write it down. Let’s face it – we’re all human, and nobody can be expected to remember everything. Don’t have a pen and paper handy? Use your phone’s notepad feature to record important details.
- Follow Through: There’s no point in making to-do lists if you’re not going to complete the tasks you’ve assigned yourself. At the end of the day, take a look at what you’ve accomplished vs. what you’ve put off or were unable to complete. If something is continually left undone, take a good look at it. Is it really important to your top priorities? If so, bite the bullet and get started on it. If it’s not, reevaluate your top priorities and spend your time on those items instead.