If you chip away at your organization goals one task at a time, you will begin to see the benefits.
Organization can come naturally to some and be a struggle for others. For myself, I have always loved the task of staying organized. Whether it be in my home, my office, or my computer desktop, I’m always up for a good declutter. It not only clears my space, it clears my mind. If you don’t consider yourself an organized person, don’t turn a blind eye. Much like exercise, if you chip away at your organization goals one task at a time, you will begin to see the benefits.
Here are just a few ways organization can be beneficial in the workplace:
- Increase productivity
- Reduce stress
- Streamline repetitive tasks
- Free up time for more non-work activities
- Positively impact your company’s bottom-line
So, in what ways can you begin to improve your organization habits? Below are my tips for staying organized and getting the most out of your workday, week, and year:
- Streamline through templates. If you have repetitive processes that you do on a day-to-day or weekly basis, create templates so you’re not recreating the wheel each time. Whether it be a proposal template, an Excel document, or a weekly email, have templates in place that can free up time for tasks that require more thought and attention.
- Follow a consistent filing structure that works for you and your team. If you are in a management or leadership position, take a look at your firm or department’s filing structure. Does it make sense, or could it use some revising? A good rule of thumb is to have someone outside of your department or organization try to find something in your files. How long does it take them to retrieve what they’re looking for? If they are searching for more than 30 seconds, you may need to rethink your file structure. Below are some items to consider:
- Do you have a standard nomenclature when naming your folders and documents? For example, each of your project folders may include the following nomenclature: Department_MM/YY, Client, Project Name
- Are your folders and subfolders consistent throughout? For example, on a Marketing Drive, each proposal folder may always include five subfolders: 1) RFP, 2) Working Documents, 3) Supporting Documents, 4) Graphics, 5) Final Document
- Time-saver tip: Use the F2 Command to quickly select and edit a folder or file name.
- Stay on top of your email and online calendar. In this digital age, email can become overwhelming if you don’t keep it in check and your calendar may quickly fill up as the week goes on. Below are some tips for staying organized with your online communication tools.
- Take advantage of the color-coding feature in your calendar. Color-coding items helps to visually see what needs more attention and what may simply just be a reminder or small task. If you have your hand in several departments, you could also designate a color for each department. The possibilities are endless – do what make sense to you.
- Create folders and subfolders in your inbox. I am a big advocate of creating a file structure within your inbox to save your emails no matter how small or minute they may seem at the time. As a marketing manager, perhaps the most important folders I create are for proposals – organized by year, month, and proposal name. Each time we begin a new pursuit, I create a folder and simply drag any emails related to that pursuit into the folder. Saving your emails in an organized fashion saves time when you need to reference a specific pursuit, person, or firm.
- Take advantage of the flagging system in your inbox. Flag important emails that need attention. The visual of red flags in your inbox ensures important emails stay top-of-mind and don’t go unnoticed.
- Delete, delete, delete. Take five to 10 minutes at the end of each day to make sure any unnecessary or “spammy” emails are deleted out of your inbox. Additionally, move any important emails that need to be filed into the appropriate folder.
- Implement lists into your work routine. Whether you prefer a digital app like Evernote or a simple hand-written list, getting your tasks out of your head and in writing will help you to not lose sight of your day-to-day tasks and overall goals. Take time at the beginning or end of each day to evaluate your list and revise where needed. I also like to take some time to edit my list at the end of each week, so I am ready to hit the ground running Monday morning. In addition to a day-to-day task list, writing a monthly or quarterly list that includes more lofty goals helps you stay abreast of what you’re trying to accomplish in the long run. Note: Your day-to-day task list should support and move toward these loftier goals.
So, where do you start on your organizational journey?
- Start with what can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. If you can clean up your desk or inbox in less than an hour, start there. Tackling a relatively “easy” organization task that will produce clear and visible results is likely to motivate you to move on to larger tasks.
- Take it one day at a time. Organization is successful through day-to-day maintenance. Going back to the exercise analogy, if you stay on top of it, it will be much easier to maintain.
- Be willing to put in the grunt work upfront. Getting started at ground zero may seem overwhelming, but it’s important to stay focused on the long-term benefits. As the saying goes, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
- Give yourself grace. If you begin to fall behind on some of your organizational goals, don’t beat yourself up. Do what you can with the time that you have. Every bit counts.
Kim Fowler, CPSM is the marketing manager at Falcon Engineering, Inc. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.