How many days have you walked into work already frazzled from the crazy traffic or having a hectic morning leaving the house? What about those days when you discover something was due or there was a meeting that you forgot about? We all have these things that come up, but by instituting these 10 daily tips you can ensure your day will be more organized enabling you to handle these inevitable unknowns with grace and less stress.
One way to be more organized is to determine your most productive part of the day. Once you do you want to schedule your important project work and meetings during this time. I have known for years that I am not a morning person. It takes me a while for my engine to start running at full capacity. Knowing this I try not to schedule any meetings or important tasks on my calendar before 10 am. This ensures those things get the best part of me. Your high peak time may be different, and that's okay, just identify when that time is and make it known. Use your low peak times to complete more repetitive or administrative tasks that require limited focus.
I know in this electronic age this is taboo for some of you. I heard the collective gasp of dismay, but I encourage you to try it. Remember this is all about being more organized. The pattern I follow is that I check mail during my least productive time of the day (early morning), before lunch and after lunch and then before I leave for the day. I am not shy about letting people know this either. The rule is if it is important...call me. Outside of those times, I am able to focus on the task at hand instead of playing find the latest email in my inbox.
Sounds are extremely intrusive, especially when they are coming from your computer or your phone. My number one tip to be more organized is to turn off the notifications for emails and texts on your computer and cell phone. I do this specifically while I am in the office and/or working on major tasks. This is by far one of the biggest productivity killers because it keeps you from being present.
Consider turning on the do not disturb feature, which will help limit distractions when you are working on a major task (Note: You can set rules for favorite numbers so you can get calls from specific people or if there is an emergency). For those of you who find the idea of silencing your phone hard, try getting it out of your line of sight. Put it in your coat pocket, bag or purse so you aren't constantly checking it.
Are you seeing a theme here? We are eliminating those habit-forming distractions that prevent us from being more organized. Ok so, you know that big box that pops up telling you that you have mail. This is a productivity killer! Unless you are expecting an important email, there is no need for this popup to be activated. If you are an email watcher I would encourage you to even turn off the small little email and/or chime that appears in your toolbar when new mail arrives. By following the second step above you will not miss anything. Encourage people to only email you with non-emergency items and to call you if there is something that needs your attention right away.
These are also high-ranking productivity killers. You say oh I’ll just listen to the game or the commentary while I do XYZ, but really you are splitting your focus. There is no way to fully focus on a task if you have part of your brain focused on what Mike Greenberg said on SportsCenter. I won't even get into how easy it is to waste time when making a "quick post" on social media. Unless your job is to monitor these things, I recommend saving it for lunch or after hours.
All the extra trinkets and things on your desk take up space physically, mentally and visually. I know you want to personalize your desk…and that is fine. However, if you want to be more organized and productive, don’t go overboard. If you must have them, place them in areas that are the least distracting and don’t take up precious real estate on the workspace of your desk.
Don't overcomplicate clutter removal. Start on one side of your desk and work your way across removing anything you don't need to do your job. In your direct line of sight you should keep it to one personal item in each direction you look at the most (on the left, in the front and to the right). If you have a lot of photos or other mementos, consider placing them behind you or above your line of sight. This requires you to really focus on looking at them versus them taking up your visual space at all times.
Each day, pick three to four key tasks that you must complete. I would recommend two big ones and two small ones unless you know the big one will take a long time. This ensures you have forward momentum in your day because we all know there is nothing like marking something off your list. If you finish all four tasks before the day ends, you can always add on more.
You should always close out your day by cleaning/straightening your space and desk. This allows you to not only reflect on what you were able to accomplish for the day but also to make a high-level plan for the next day. It also creates an environment of creativity for the following workday. When you come in you will be ready to hit the ground running, even if you are only checking emails.
I like to do mine at the end of the day and then revisit it at the beginning of the day. This planning period allows me to process what tasks need to be done next. I can also prep my desk for the next day as recommended above. When I come in, I review my plan one more time to ensure nothing has changed. This allows me to be more organized and productive because I know exactly where to begin on the following day.
Block these tasks off in your calendar like you would a meeting and prep for it in the same way. This encourages you to use this designated time to focus on that task. You will be amazed at how an hour of focused time can make a difference in how efficiently you are able to complete a task. Make sure to give it the same importance as you would with a Client meeting. Don’t push it or cut it short unless absolutely necessary - would you do that to a Client? I hope you found these tips useful and that they will help you to be more organized. Please share below any additional or adaptive tips you may have to increase your productivity and stress levels.
Dana is a Holistic Organizer, Certified Project Manager and Life Coach in Nashville, TN who works primarily with side-hustlers and solopreneurs to improve their work-life balance using organization and process. Connect with Dana for more organizing and process tips.