15 Tips to Instantly Get Organized at Work
If you work in a fast-paced environment, staying organized becomes a real struggle. Papers pile up on the desk, the inbox fills faster than you can handle it and you often can’t find an important note or a phone number. The constant clutter both in your cubicle and in your head prevents you from being productive, as you spend lots of time looking for something important or urgently completing a task you’ve forgotten about.
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Getting organized in the office: General tips
1. Clean up your desk
To effectively manage the clutter at your desk and the cubicle in general, use the method of three piles. Any trash and papers you no longer need goes to “toss” pile. Outdated reports, copies of documents you might need sometime should be sent into the “store” pile. Find the place outside of your cubicle to store these papers. Finally, all the papers you currently need go to the “to-do” pile and stay on your desk so far.
2. Sort out the papers
Organize the printouts, papers and sticky notes in the way you find convenient – by projects, dates, etc. You might want to make use of desk organizers for this purpose. The main idea here is that you know for sure where your papers are stored and don’t have to look up for them in a mess.
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3. Keep all important items within reach
Put all items you frequently use within an arm’s reach – the phone, your notebook, pen, sticky notes, etc. By doing so, you’ll avoid the situation when you ask the person on the phone to wait until you find a pen to make notes. Moreover, the necessity to bend over the table to reach something or to look for items in the bottom drawer can cause the spine and neck pain in the long run. So, keeping things within reach is also good for your health.
4. Get rid of excessive office supplies
Lots of pens, markers and staplers spread across your desk don’t help your concentration. When it comes to sorting out the supplies, minimalism is your best tactic. Leave the most important items next to you and toss (or put away) the rest. The fewer things are there on your desk, the better. Also, don’t use your desk as storage for things that have nothing to do with work. While a picture of your loved ones and a fun toy are okay, putting all your cosmetics or collection of teas isn’t the best tactic if you strive for order.
5. Use the one-touch rule to keep organized
If you don’t maintain the space around you organized, you’ll find it cluttered again in a few days. To avoid it, use a one-touch rule – deal with each piece of paper immediately. Send it to trash, put into a relevant pile or act on it and then put aside. This tactic will prevent you from piling up the papers and getting lost in the mess again. And keeping your desk always clean not only will inspire the working process, but also help to get away from work routine.
Organizing your virtual workspace
1. Clean up your desktop
Just like the actual desk, your desktop needs to be decluttered. Delete all files you no longer use and organize the rest in folders by projects, clients, or dates. When someone asks for that report you’ve written in April you’ll know for sure where to find it. Moreover, cleaning up the clutter will help overcome the feeling that you are overwhelmed with work.
2. Organize the inbox
Use filters and labels to sort all incoming emails. Thus, when you finally get down to responding to them, you won’t spend time looking for an important letter from the boss in dozens of others. Unsubscribe from useless newsletters and promotions.
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3. Set aside time for checking email
Don’t check the inbox when you have a free minute. Plan some time in your schedule so you could calmly sit and read all these letters. Make a rule to take action immediately upon reading the letter – it will help you get more things done. If the letter is important but it’s impossible to answer immediately, mark it to return to it later.
Organizing your working process
1. Make use of technology…
Online calendars, to-do lists and organizers can make your life at work easier if you consolidate all important information there. Moreover, if you synchronize the desktop calendar with the app on the phone, your schedule and lists will be accessible anytime you’re not at the computer. Smart tech helpers can also notify you about an important assignment, approaching deadline or the upcoming meeting, so you won’t forget anything.
2. …but put your phone aside as you work
Popping up notifications and buzzing sounds that distract you every few minutes are counter-productive. It’s impossible to get really concentrated if you glimpse on your phone every few minutes. And switching off notifications isn’t the solution: the studies have proven that people are less concentrated when the phone simply lies on the table next to them.
We all know that spending the entire day without a smartphone is impossible. However, try putting it in your bag or the drawer when your work on a task that requires deep concentration.
3. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking gives us a sense of being busy, but that doesn’t mean that we get more things done. As we switch from one task to another, we don’t actually focus on neither of them. Thus, you can make a few typos in an email and fail to analyze figures effectively in a report. So, make a habit to work on one thing at a time, and only switch to another task after you’ve done. This might seem unusual, but you’ll certainly find yourself working more efficiently.
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4. Plan your day ahead
The experts recommend that you plan your day the night before. If you decide to plan your day once you’re in the office, you’ll get absorbed by urgent assignments and routine tasks, and they will distract you from the big picture. There are lots of approaches to daily planning, from plain to-do lists to ranging the tasks by urgency and importance. Choose whichever appeals to you, just keep these goals realistic. In addition to creating daily plans, it’s a good idea to write weekly and monthly ones so you could keep focused on achieving bigger goals.
5. Set limits for each task
Setting deadlines even for non-urgent tasks organizes you and stimulates to complete them in due time. If you are not time-pressed, your mind is likely to roam and therefore you’ll get fewer tasks done by the end of the day. So, if you set daily tasks in the form of a to-do list, open your list and set deadlines for each assignment. It will give you a sense of urgency and stimulates you to work effectively.
6. Take regular breaks
When planning your day, schedule time for breaks. If you are super busy, take at least 5 minutes a few times per day. Take this time to take a walk, have a cup of tea or talk to someone you love. The idea of such small breaks is to get distracted from work and recharge your brain. Taking these breaks will improve your concentration and help with staying organized.
7. Reduce the meeting time
Most meetings are overextended and the meeting time isn’t 100% devoted to discussing work matters. A lot of meeting time is spent on conference call setup, chitchat and banter. Thus, if you cut down the meeting time by 25%, you’ll still have time to discuss all top-priority matters and have more time for work. To achieve this, organize the meeting time in order to quickly discuss the work-related issues and get back to business.
Organizing your workplace, the working process and managing emails go hand in hand in getting and staying organized in the office. By implementing these simple tips into your daily routine you’ll find it easier to stay inspired and hard-working in the workplace.
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