They say cleanliness is next to godliness. In the business world, it’s organization that reigns supreme. Whether you’re the one running the show, or are in one of the many supporting roles, maintaining a sense of structure in the things you do directly affects the bottom line. Organization means efficiency, which results in things getting done faster and accurately, which then means there’s more time to focus on the next project.
Are you or your staff lacking on the organization front? Start with these five steps to get yourselves back on track.
1. Get Your Desk in Order
We all have that coworker whose desk looks like a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Papers are stacked everywhere. Nothing seems to be in order. Many times, said owner insists they know where everything is, but still, there should be some sort of rhyme and reason to your workspace. While you may know exactly where in a pile of disheveled papers lays that list of notes for the upcoming presentation, what if you’re out of the office and that list only exists on your desk? As easy as it may be for you to find that paper, it shouldn’t be impossible for someone else to find it in your absence. Take some time to organize those piles. File away things that don’t need to be out at all times.
2. File Those Emails
I once worked with someone who, organized as she was in all other aspects of life, had an inbox that gave me night tremors. How so? While she dealt with and filed away top priority emails, there were still in excess of 10,000 — no, that is not a typo — unread messages in her inbox. An inbox with that many emails is difficult to navigate, and such a huge volume can delay even a search tool’s results. Before your inbox gets too unwieldy, create subfolders. And then further subfolders for those. Make a point of regularly moving your emails to an easy-to-find location, and keep your inbox clutter-free. If you regularly get emails that you need to keep but don’t always need to open, set up rules so they’re immediately delivered to a designated subfolder. And when you see junk, delete it right away!
3. Make Lists
It sounds so simple, right? That’s because it is. Instead of consistently racking your brain to remember everything put on your plate, write it all down — or, better yet, use a free program like Sticky Notes to cut down on paper use — and prioritize. Cross things off (or delete) as you go. (There’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes with actually seeing items disappear from a to-do list.)
4. Schedule Your Day
Do you regularly get batches of similar emails throughout the day (like customer service queries) that require timely responses, but aren’t necessarily urgent? Or do you have regular reports that need to be run? Block out certain times of the day/week to dedicate to each routine task you have. This way, you take care of it all in one fell swoop rather than going back and forth all day.
5. Respect the Chain of Command
You might not consider something like this when you trying to get organized, but think about it: If there is no reporting structure, who do you turn to with questions? Are you asking the right things to the wrong person, which may result in misinformation? In what order do projects make their way up the approval ladder? Are you skipping steps, resulting in backtracking later on? Have a structured system in place and diligently adhere to it; everything will get done much faster, without the excessive back and forth.
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