Maintaining a level of organization in today’s workplace is no easy task. Many of us endure a flood of emails and the expectation of continual multi-tasking. It is tempting to sacrifice organization when managing a heavy workload. However, organizational skills can provide tremendous assistance in effectively managing your time, taming the email beast and maintaining your sanity in a high pressure work environment. Here are a few tips to help the modern business professional become and stay organized.
Don’t be a slave to your email. It can be tempting to check each new email as it pops into your inbox. However, if you find that you cannot resist looking over at your email each time something new arrives, then you will be unable to fully focus on anything else. Designate specific times during your day to answer emails and then close your inbox when it is not one of those designated times. For example, you might work on emails from 8:00am until 9:00am every morning. Then at 9:00am close your inbox and work on something else for an hour. Do not look at your email again until 10:00am. Of course, these times are just an example. You should plan to work on your email according to your schedule. The important thing to remember is that when you are not actively reading, filing or answering emails, close your inbox in order to keep your focus on the task at hand.
Get into the habit of filing your emails. Every email that has been read and acted upon should be filed right away. Your inbox should only contain emails that are unread or still require action.
Use lists to keep track of tasks that need to be completed. You might consider using a planner book, an electronic task list or even a handwritten list on a notepad. Refer to your checklist throughout the day to make sure you are accomplishing what needs to be done for the day. Every morning, before throwing away the previous day’s checklist, make sure anything that was not completed gets added to today’s new checklist. If you find that you often are not completing everything on your task list, try working on your most difficult or important task first to ensure that the most important work is being completed every day.
Keep your workspace clean. It is impossible to be organized in your professional life if you do not have a clean workspace. If you have piles of papers all over your desk, you are going to waste time searching through those papers trying to locate what you need. Paperwork should be filed away or scanned and stored electronically. Files that are not active should be kept in a filing drawer and not on top of your desk. Personal items in your office should be kept to a minimum. Even office supplies should be organized and kept to the bare essentials. There’s no need for you to have a hundred pens cluttering your desk drawers. Make sure your office is clean before your leave for the evening by scheduling a few minutes at the end of every day to put your things away.
Pick a naming convention for your electronic files and folders. Failure to use a consistent naming convention can lead to duplicate folders or items that are filed in the wrong location. Locating items in your files is much simpler when you know exactly where to look.
Adopting these simple organization techniques will improve your productivity and help you keep pace in today’s workplace. Reduce your work stress by taking a few minutes to get organized!
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