Do you dream of walk-in, color-coded closets and labeled storage rooms? Okay, that may be a little too type-A… but if you wish you could organize your daily responsibilities a little better, let me help.
Here are a handful of practical tips, techniques and strategies for getting organized and taking control of your projects that work like a charm.
Desk Cleaning Techniques
When I think about organization, I think about a clean house with labeled storage and mail filed nicely in easy-to-pick-through piles. Having a clean workspace is no different and it’s amazing how quickly piles of notes, project documents and post-its stack up! Here are a few tricks to organize your workspace:
Schedule Cleanings—on a weekly basis you should do a quick scan through your desk to dump anything you don’t absolutely need. Anything that takes up space is a stressful distraction. Dump it!
Toss the Sticky Notes—while Post-Its are super handy, they take up clutter and make reminders and to-do’s difficult to organize. Try keeping a central location for all task lists. I like to keep a list in my Outlook notes section while some co-workers prefer using One Note.
Turn Piles into Files—for all of those documents that you absolutely need to keep “just in case”, pick up some file folders, label them appropriately and file them into your drawer for easy access. It’s important to keep your desk clean to stay organized.
Have you ever taken a break from a demanding project for a breather and a cup of coffee, got caught up in a conversation with a co-worker and minutes later found yourself back at your desk, trying to refocus? Getting back into “the zone” is tricky and refocusing takes time. In order to better optimize your time to organize your projects, here are a few tips:
Identify Time Wasters—are you getting caught up in 10-minute conversations regularly throughout the day? If so, it’s eating away at your productivity. Try scheduling weekly happy hours with co-workers to keep that time for projects and high-priority tasks.
Schedule Buffer Time—refocusing is tough and takes time. Make sure you have 5-10 minutes buffed into each task, project or meeting to get your thoughts together and get on track.
Use Your Calendar—do you have a hard time remembering quick tasks? Don’t put them on a post-it, book it on your calendar. This makes sure you stay on task and have the time set aside to complete the items on your to-do list. Oh, and don’t forget your buffer time!
Managing a Full Plate
This is where organization becomes critical. When your plate is full, interruptions can become irritating, especially when the interrupter is asking you to take on another task or project. Handling these interruptions in a professional and collected manner will help your peers better understand your needs.
Handling Interruptions—frequent interrupters may not know they are interrupting an important task so it is important to mention that you respond in a sincere tone... if you are on your way to a meeting, try walking and talking, ask to catch up for drinks later or put something on the calendar to discuss.
Saying “No”—when your plate is overflowing and deadlines are approaching, it’s important to keep a level head and remain calm. If you need to say “no” to taking on another task, say it clearly, honestly and authentically and makes sure to let your peer know your answer would be “yes” under other circumstances to avoid last minute requests and project interruptions in the future.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks of getting and staying organized!