Staying organized at work is a challenge for most people–business owners included. It’s a tough task to balance owning a business, growing that business, and managing the rest of your life as well. Trying to stay organized at work on top of everything else is overwhelming to most of us.
The truth is that there are several facets to staying organized such as doing what works for you, saying no, and learning to delegate. These tips can help you learn to manage business and life in a way that works best for you.
How To Stay Organized At Work
Throw out what you know about organization out the window for a minute. Start with a clean slate and make a new plan for organizing your work life.
And that starts by creating your own organization plan–your plan, your way. Simply because you are unique.
1. Do What Works For You
Your personality and your responsibilities are likely different from the person next to you. This is why there is no one-size-fits-all answer for organization.
The way you organize your life has to compliment your personality and your responsibilities. Therefore, it might work best if you pick and choose organization techniques from varying sources.
Read several articles or books on organization, but don’t confine yourself to one author’s style or suggestion list. Instead, choose suggestions from varying authors that fit your needs and your personality.
2. Change Your Style As Needed
As life changes, so do your organizational needs. Maybe you’ve gotten married. Or had a baby. Maybe your business has grown. For this reason, it’s important to reassess your organizational needs on a regular basis; every six months, for example.
Change things up as you change and grow. Understand that what worked for you last year might not work for you this year, and redefine your organizational style as needed.
And keep studying organization tips and tools so you have a fresh list of “hows” to choose from.
3. Give Yourself Permission To Say No
One common problem as people struggle with organization is that they simply have too much on their plate. Business owners are typically go-getters. And it’s common for people to go to hard-working people when they need stuff done.
In order to stay organized, you need to figure out what you can take on–and what you can’t. It’s okay to say “no” when people ask you for favors and help because you simply can’t do it all.
When someone asks you for help, take the time to consider whether you have the time. Then answer based on your current availability and the priority of the task. Have a standard answer you can fall back on that is polite yet firm.
Thanks for thinking of me but I’ll have to pass. I’m crazy busy right now.
For instance, you might consider helping your parents with fall cleanup as a higher priority than doing a ministry event with your church. And that’s okay. You don’t have to do both if you don’t feel you have the time for both.
4. Learn To Delegate
According to a Gallup poll, 60% of employees list the opportunity to do what they do best as extremely important for job satisfaction. For small businesses with fewer employees responsible for more duties, employee job satisfaction is doubly important.
Training new employees is expensive, both in terms of time and money. Instead, start by learning what your team members’ gifts and talents are. Spend a half-hour talking with each employee to find out what they do best.
Then, delegate your tasks accordingly. You’ll have more time to do what you do best, and you’ll have happier employees.
5. Know Your Priorities
Organization is easier when you know what your priorities are. When you know where your priorities lie, you can more easily make decisions about how to spend your time and money.
In my case, my priority list looks something like this:
- My health and spiritual life
- My loved ones
- My businesses
- Volunteer opportunities
Make your own list of priorities, and make it as detailed or simple as you wish. As you plan your days, weeks, months and years, keep your list in mind.
Having a clear picture of your priorities helps you know what you can and can’t add to your schedule. For instance, if your loved ones are a higher priority than your work, it’s easy to decide you won’t work extra hours if it means missing your kid’s baseball game.
6. Make Day Plans And Lists
“Either you run the day or the day runs you,” Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn.
Having a daily plan is crucial to staying organized. You can make it the night before or the day of, but start your day with a list of what you’d like to get accomplished.
Then plan out when you’re going complete which tasks. Lists are also a great way to prioritize your to-do list. Make a list of your upcoming tasks, and rank them in order of importance.
Cross them off as you complete them to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment. Bonus tip: If any task takes less than five minutes, get it done immediately. You’d be amazed how good it feels to get small tasks off your plate.
The 5-minute rule can be great for large tasks too, like cleaning your email inbox, creating a mailing list or organizing your office. Just work for five minutes a day on larger tasks and move on to your next list item.
7. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead can be difficult–especially if your personality functions better under pressure. However, making a plan for longer-term tasks and events can reduce your stress level dramatically.
For example, if you’ve got an upcoming presentation to a potential new client, plan and review the presentation at least a week in advance. Then review it again the day before as a refresher.
Staying organized by planning ahead can help you avoid stress and avoid the sloppy work that can come with last-minute rushing too.
8. Beware Of Distractions
Distractions can be a major hindrance to organization for one simple reason: When you’re distracted, you’re not getting things done and you’re wasting time. Some distractions can include:
- Non-work-related social media
- Not feeling well
- Over-extended social time
Be careful to take care of your health and your relationships so that problems with them don’t get you distracted. And keep social media and in-person social time in check.
9. Take Breaks
Yes, work is important. However, taking regular breaks at work is vital to organization and productivity. In fact, one study showed that not taking breaks results in what’s called “decision fatigue.” That type of fatigue can result in a more disorganized life and business.
Be sure you’re taking regular breaks as you run your business. Go for a brief walk. Chat with team members. Meditate. Do some stretching or yoga poses in your office.
Take a short 15-20 minute nap. Give your brain a break and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to make smarter business decisions regarding organization and everything else.
10. Use Organizational Tools
Organizational tools are so helpful when it comes to getting–and staying–organized. Apps like Hootsuite, Expensify, Google Drive, and Evernote are tools that can help you stay organized throughout the day regardless of where your office is located.
Mobile apps like Outlook and Mailstrom are also greatly beneficial when working to maintain a clean inbox. And since studies show that employees spend anywhere from 28% to 50% of their time on email, tidy inboxes make for a more efficient office.
How to stay organized at work doesn’t have to elude you. Simply take the time to find the tips and tools that work for you. Your business and your life will thank you for it.
Staying organized is one of the best ways to be productive and make the best use of your time. Knowing what works for you, maintaining strict adherence to your priorities, staying focused, and using the best tools for you will go a long way to staying on track.