Parkinson’s Law states that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” A retired, elderly gentleman can spend a whole day writing and posting a letter to his nephew.
- An hour spent finding paper
- An hour spent hunting for spectacles
- Half an hour spend searching for the address
- An hour and a quarter spent writing the letter
- Twenty minutes spent deciding whether to take an umbrella
- An hour spent walking around the corner to post the letter including two conversations with neighbors.
The whole exercise would take a busy executive about three minutes. The same task leaves the old gent exhausted after a day of anxiety, doubt, and effort.
Do you wonder why you haven’t achieved as much as you wanted to today? Do you find your “to do” list gets longer, the same piece of paper keeps surfacing in your in-tray and your email keeps getting in your way?
It’s time for you to read these top tips to stay organized at work.
1. Know Your Purpose
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” So says Stephen Covey.
What are the main things at work? They are those things that help you achieve the objectives of your job. They are to do with why you are there, your purpose in the organization.
Being more cynical (or realistic) they are what keeps you in a job.
What is not the main thing is the routine stuff. The administration (unless you are an administrator), the junk that comes in your email, the stuff you do just to keep things running.
Spend some time working out what your purpose is.
2. Do the Important Stuff
Make a list of everything you do and decide which things are to do with your purpose. These things are important, active tasks that help you achieve your job objectives. The rest is reactive and less important.
Ask yourself, are you spending enough time on the active, important things? Allocate plenty of time in your schedule for the active tasks. Fit time in around these active tasks for the reactive and routine stuff.
4. Understand Your Priorities
What order do you do things in? Do you deal with stuff in the order it presents itself to you? Does your email inbox decide what order you do things in or do you?
Take charge of your priorities by deciding what is urgent and what can be done later. Urgent things need to be done first and things that are not urgent can be done later.
Seems obvious but how often do you decide priorities in other ways. A task that involves talking to that cute new Accountant is not a priority.
If something is urgent and important, do it now and give it plenty of time.
If something is urgent but not important, do it now but don’t spend much time on it.
If something is not urgent but is important, do it later but plan plenty of time for it.
If something is not urgent and not important, do it later and don’t spend much time on it.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning helps you achieve your purpose at work so it’s an active, important task. Give yourself plenty of time to do it.
Have a calendar or planner so you can block in time for important tasks.
Allow time for reactive tasks. Do it digitally or on a physical planner like the one offered by this company.
6. Prepare for Tomorrow, Today
If you ever find yourself lying awake at night thinking “I must remember to do that task tomorrow”, try this. Before you leave work, make a list of what you need to do tomorrow and schedule those task into your calendar.
You might find that you sleep better.
7. Grow Up
Ask yourself, should I be doing that task? Are you doing some things that other people should do because you like doing them?
Clinging to jobs you like and not getting the important things done is like carrying a comfort blanket around. It might make you feel temporarily warm and cozy but you need to grow up.
8. Don’t Do It for Them
If you have people who work for you don’t do their job for them. Pass on the things you shouldn’t be doing to somebody else.
If you feel uncomfortable about it, you’ll get over it as you begin to be more successful at the more important stuff.
9. Be There for Your People
You want to be there for people. That’s great, but think about why you’re doing it and what the impact on you and them is. If you fail in your job objectives you might not be there for them at all.
For every interruption to your day, there is a break in concentration. Your workflow is broken and once the interruption is over you have to get back up to speed. This is time you can’t get back.
How well are the people who are interrupting you managing their time? This should concern you if these people are your responsibility. What can you do?
Let people know about it if they regularly interrupt you. Come to an arrangement about when you are available and when you are not. If you are their leader, having scheduled one to one time lets your people know, they are important to you.
You can also let you people read these tips to stay organized at work.
10. A Place for Everything
How much time do you spend looking for things? Can’t find that email, that letter or that report.
A place for everything and everything in its place will take a little time to set up but you’ll soon get into the habit of putting things away in their proper place. And you will love how much time you save by not having to hunt for things.
Organise your email and computer files into a logical folder structure. Have a place for office stationery and always return things to that place after using them.
Tips to Stay Organized and Be a Winner
These tips to stay organized will give you a start in taking control of your time. Be conscious of your time and make your working environment support productivity rather than inhibit it.
You are going to get more of the right stuff done. That means delivering more of what you are there for. That’s a win for your stress levels, a win for your career and a win for your life.
Personal development is an active task. It helps you achieve your work objectives. To learn more, keep reading our guides.