Being Organized at Work

“Once you have a clear picture of your priorities – that is your values, goals and high leverage activities, organize around them.” – Stephen Covey

It would seem so obvious that in order to do one’s job efficiently, one must be organized at work. The fact however, is that even though everyone knows this, a large number of people are extremely disorganized – some of them to such an extent that each day seems like going to battle. Not being organized at work can have some serious repercussions and can the cost of such poor management can quickly add up. Disorganized people come across as undisciplined and can often be ignored for important projects and or promotions and career moves. Lack of organization keeps one confused, stressed and lowers productivity and effectiveness at the workplace. With companies struggling due to limited resources and increased competition, they would have less tolerance for people who do not contribute and prove to be a good ROI and soon companies decide to sever ties with them.

Being organized at work is not that hard. In fact, it should be the first step towards doing one’s job well and in an efficient manner. Being organized at work won’t just allow you to complete your job satisfactorily, but will also be able to contribute much more by taking on additional assignments, helping others in the team and other such value added jobs. These attributes makes an employee highly visible and sought after and soon come to be considered as high potentials and ready to take on bigger roles with better salaries and incentives. Disorganized people are slow, sloppy and largely inefficient in their jobs. They are prone to being late, making numerous and careless mistakes and become even more confused when their bosses reprimand them. Being disorganized is a sure fire way to derail one’s career and be the person that no one wants on their team – this has got to hurt emotionally and professionally too.

Being organized at work also means that you don’t spend the limited valuable work hours searching for things, files, information and other such urgent requirements to do your job well. An organized person would place information in separate files and folders in order to make usage and retrieval easier and more efficient. With all the information at one’s disposal, work becomes faster, there is higher productivity and enough time to do some value added tasks that will contribute to your professional clout. Being organized at work means that you would also have time to help your co-workers in their jobs and as a result become a higher contributor and well-liked team player. For example – A friend worked in administration. She would always have all the information requested and phone numbers of various people and overall was highly efficient and organized. While in her current role, she was also highly interested in being involved with the operations portion of the company and soon a project came about that required people from other departments to be part of. Due to her organizational abilities, she had proved her mettle in her job and so her boss was more than happy to allow her the opportunity to be part of the project. She performed well on the project too and was soon offered a senior role in the operations team. Her boss was sad to see her leave but she deserved the opportunity.

Being disorganized is also extremely tiring – you spend more time looking for stuff and running around trying to get what you need than actually doing any productive work. No one has the time to acknowledge the ‘running around’ – all they see is that at the end of it all no work has been done. Such a person is soon labelled as lazy, lax and an overall liability to the company. Being disorganized affects one’s personal life too – you will always be short on time and often such people do not even have enough time to take care of their personal appearance or even eat their meals. Over time they look shoddy, dazed and unkempt – on a personal level, we all know that we avoid such people.

Being organized at work not only keeps the organized person stress free but also inspires the others to keep their workstations clean and organized and work in a manner that displays pride and efficiency. A bright, clean and tidy work environment raises the morale in the workplace and encourages everyone to take pride in whatever they do.

Being organized at work or in one’s personal life is about realizing that everyone has the same number of 24 hours in the day and no one can increase or decrease that number. In the 24 hours some hours are spent resting, sleeping, eating and doing other activities other than work. However, people who are unorganized and undisciplined will be unable to make good the number of hours available for work and would need to use the time required to rest in order to complete their work. Consistently working long hours, results in burn-outs, illness, and absenteeism and ultimately the company is convinced that they do not need the services of such a person.

Oft repeated and traditionally used to organize one’s work, is the famous to-do list. It is important to keep such a list handy at the beginning of the day, listing out things one needs to do during the day, starting preferably with the most important. Some people prefer to complete all small tasks first such that only a few major tasks remain that can be completed then with focused attention – being able to tick off items from the list gives one a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. In addition, to the tasks to be done, being organized at work and elsewhere requires that a person sets the amount of time that would be required to complete a task or the amount of time they know a task can be completed in. It is critical to remain aware of the kinds of distractions possible and also those that one often gets stuck in. These distractions eat into time and efficiency and leave a person struggling to meet one’s goals of the day resulting in being unable to cope with the stress of pending tasks and unfinished goals. Being organized at work allows one to set priorities and goals and one is sure of achieving these with time to spare.

At work, most people seem to thrive on urgency and they expect others to comply too. However, while organizing one’s own work, it must be remembered that it is not always possible to factor in someone else’s ‘urgent’ into your schedule. A task that is urgent for another may not even be on your list of things to do. Remember to push back and provide a more feasible time frame for yourself and the other person. If you keep accommodating the ‘urgent matters’ of others, people will tend to take your time for granted, leaving you in a tailspin thereby defeating your aim of being organized at work.

Some people are great at multi-tasking and are able to accomplish much despite doing several things at one. However, if there are a number of things to complete for the day, ensure that each task that you pick to do, must be put down only when they are completed. This will allow one to tick things off the list providing a sense of relief.

To remain organized at work, it is imperative that one follows a set schedule for tasks that are repeated each day. A number of people find it convenient to complete all meetings in the morning and devote the rest of the day to other tasks. Others prefer to complete all tasks – emails, important calls and other to-dos in the morning and reserve the latter half of the day for meetings. Prioritizing one’s work according to what works for one is the best way to accomplish maximum tasks during the day. Some people have the privilege of being able to delegate some tasks to those that work with them – it is important too. Delegation rids one of tasks that others can handle giving them a sense of responsibility, while as a senior person, you can dedicate your time in managing more important tasks and making strategic processes and decisions.

The fact is being organized at work is crucial to long term success – it provides a sense of balance, order, structure and efficiency. Accomplishing a lot each day raises one’s self-esteem and makes them feel good about themselves and also enables them to reach out to help others – improving the quality of relationships and life in the company.

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