In an environment where companies are short-handed and employees are over-worked and overwhelmed, it is even more important to be sure to be organized and on-task with your job duties. It is important that you approach your job with deliberate planning to prioritize and find the best working environment to encourage productivity and efficiency.
Here are five tips for staying organized and on-task at the office.
- Move your computer. This might seem like a funny tip, but from personal experience, I learned that where you place your computer and how you arrange your office can have a big impact on your work productivity. For a while, I worked in an office I inherited with a pre-arranged set up which included a computer screen that faced the wall and forced me to face my door, which also included a high traffic hallway. I did not like shutting my door and completely cutting myself off from others in our office (it just wasn’t our company’s culture), so I was constantly distracted and interrupted by passersby. I moved my computer screen to force me to face a wall and the door was to my side. I immediately found an improvement in the number of interruptions from this very simple change.
- Create To Do Lists. Sounds simple, but more often than not, I have found that there are To Do List people in this world and there are people that are not. To Do Lists help prioritize the tasks for the day and prevent forgetting a task that needed to get done for the day. Having a clear understanding of what you need to get done each day will help you manage your time and get things done. Even if you aren’t a natural To Do List person, try it!
- Have regular meetings with key people. One of the biggest interruptions most people have at the office is from other coworkers, whether it’s a question or some other issue that one or the other needs to consult another on. However, this can adversely affect work productivity. Set up regular meetings with key people you work with and all items you have that can wait until that set meeting each week (or even each day, if it needs to be set up that way) can be set aside for the allotted time that you have scheduled. Then, the only interruptions you will have from people are urgent and important ones that require your immediate attention or the rare one from a coworker that usually doesn’t need much. Another option is to create some kind of system of e-mailing issues that don’t require in-person interruptions, but even e-mail can become distracting and affect work productivity, so beware!
- Use your calendar. When there are so many tasks to be done and things to follow up on at the office, it is hard to keep things in order and to remember everything. There is no doubt in my mind that any employer or boss expects every employee to remember everything, but they do expect you to have some kind of system in place to prevent things falling through the cracks and some kind of “tickling” system. The best system I have found to be is your own calendar with reminders (especially those annoying pop-up reminders that make some kind of sound or are very visible when they pop up). It is best not to assume that people will respond to requests or an e-mail or that you will simply remember among the other things you’re doing to do a task or follow up with someone, so use your calendar to your advantage and calendar reminders and ticklers for yourself.
- Clear the clutter. As someone that’s very organized (arguably borderline OCD about organization), this one comes as a natural to me. However, I have helped other assistants and coworkers see and feel the benefits of being insistent on leaving at the end of the day with a desk that is cleared of clutter, paperwork and other piles. To be able to come into the office with a desk that is cleared of clutter will help start off the day on the right track and help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with all of the tasks that you have to do. Then, when you do start to sit down and do your work, you won’t be distracted and have the mental stress of having to see piles and other things all over the place. This doesn’t mean you get to shove everything unknowingly into a drawer. It means that you may need to be very deliberate in your actions for organizations (folders, drawers, bins, etc.).
All of these tips are very obvious and simple tasks to help one stay organized on task, but while they’re simple to do, they’re often forgotten and overlooked in the day-to-day hustle and bustle at the office. Hopefully as we head into the last 2 months of the year, you can put some of these tips into action to get started on the new year on the right foot!