You’ve heard of all the benefits of staying organized at work, right? That you’ll gain more clarity, motivation, time, and energy?
Being a manager comes with many responsibilities. Different tasks, tedious paperwork, and urgent situations all call for your attention. They’re all over the place, really.
The concept of staying organized sounds great on the surface, but seriously, how exactly do you do it?
Should you just sit there and hope for things to be decluttered, categorized, and solved themselves? Or should you make a list of all your tasks and refer to it spontaneously?
If you constantly find yourself in clutters, you may need to find ways to feel more in control of your workday.
Here’s a guide on how to be organized at work. We’ll talk about your physical, mental, and digital space, so keep reading!
How to be organized at work: your physical space
Get rid of stuff and clean your space
Clutters in your workspace may make you feel like a mess and demotivate you from having an organized work life.
For items that you don’t actually use or don’t use often:
- Find places where you can throw them away
- Put away or donate
- Send to recycling centers and thrift stores
- Sell them on Craigslist, in a garage sale, or to your friends
You can only keep what you actually use in your workspace. For example, keep one pen you always use instead of multiple pens you never touch.
Have a specific place for each item
If you set a specific place for each item, you’ll be more likely to return them to their place after use (this should be a habit that you practice regularly, not just a likelihood). You also know where to find the items you need without digging through your whole workspace.
Keep most-used items nearby so you can save some time looking for them. For items you don’t often use, you can hide them away in drawers, cabinets, folders, etc.
Reduce paper use
Papers require lots of efforts to sort, organize, and store. We recommend reduce the use of paper to the minimum. Go digital whenever you can.
If you have to use paper, try to put them into folders with labels or color codes, then have some drawers and filing cabinets for them. Set up a system that allows you to retrieve any documents quickly and neatly.
Have a specific time for declutter and organization
Clutter and disorganization will always come back, so it’s necessary to declutter and reorganize consistently.
Set aside some time every day or at the end of your week to organize your stuff. Put documents into folders and drawers. Throw away trash. Dust and wipe your workspace.
Cleaning your space doesn’t take much time, yet being clutter-free will surely boost your mood and give you some mental clarity.
How to be organized at work: your digital space
Adopt Inbox Zero for emails
Inbox Zero means you process your emails right away after you view them so that your inbox is always cleared. Every time you check your inbox, you’re not distracted by flashy old emails anymore.
To practice Inbox Zero, you can:
- Delete unimportant emails
- Categorize important emails into folders for suitable actions (Follow Up, Read Through, Reply, etc.). Here’s a great Inbox Zero tutorial video that explains how to set up and use those categories.
- Create folders for different areas of your work life, for instance, Employees’ Requests, Payroll, Customer Complaints, etc.
- Unsubscribe from newsletters you never open
You can also prioritize direct conversations to reduce the number of emails you have to process each day.
Use management apps
Digital apps are convenient for managing your work life. They come in many categories, from project and task management to workforce management. Many of them are cloud-based so you can access them anywhere with just a few taps.
You may feel overwhelmed when facing so many app choices. It’s best to experiment and pick 1-2 apps that suit you best.
The Camelo app keeps a big part of your work life organized as you can schedule, manage, and communicate with your staff in one place.
Block distracting sites and apps
If you work a lot on a digital device with an Internet network, you may find yourself going for entertainment websites and distracting apps all the time. That’s when having a distraction-blocking extension on your browser can help.
Try to resist the urge to unblock distracting sites and give yourself up to distractions. You can schedule short periods of time throughout the day when you can use those apps and sites, but not when you work.
How to be organized at work: your mental space
Plan your week
At the beginning or the end of a week, sit down and plan your week ahead roughly. For example, you can set the main theme for each weekday. Monday is for Admin Work, for instance.
You can go a step further by adding goals and deadlines into your week to make sure you’re working on what truly matters to you and setting clear finish lines for your tasks.
Plan your day
This is where your plan goes specific. Start your day with 5-10 minutes of writing down tasks you want to accomplish that day, and when to do them. If you love to be more organized, you can try out the Time Blocking method.
Have a main task list
If the idea of planning for each day seems to be too rigid for you, you can just quickly write down what to do into a main task list to make sure nothing is missed.
While doing multiple tasks at a time seems to be productive, it doesn’t. When you multitask, your brain constantly switches between those tasks. In other words, you don’t actually fully focus on anything. If your job allows, you should adopt the single-tasking method—doing one thing at a time.
Breaks help you recharge your energy and clarity in mind. Walk around, drink a glass of water, have some snacks, take short naps. You’ll come back to work feeling refreshed. It’s the first step to become more organized.
Turn on Do Not Disturb mode
This mode turns off notifications that steal your attention. If you want to go more extreme, you can consider putting your phone away in a drawer or another room, or leave it face down and out of your reach.
Write things down
You can’t remember everything, from important events and meetings to reminders and tasks.
It’s helpful to write things down so you don’t forget them. Simply write down stuff you actually need and don’t, stuff you want to keep and give away, stuff that pops up in your head, and more.
Bring a small pocket notebook and a good pen if you’re into non-digital writing. Or jot down stuff on your phone for easier access.
Delegate when necessary
Your tasks don’t always have to be done by you. If you have too many nagging tasks that you can’t find the time to resolve, try to delegate to someone who’s qualified and trustworthy.
Learn more about how to delegate properly.
Set up work systems where everything is in one place
Spreading your attention on too many apps, websites, and documents can be overwhelming. Try to create a system where you can manage everything in one place.
You can use project management apps such as Basecamp or Notion, or experiment with automation tools such as Zapier or IFTTT.
In terms of workforce management, you can try out Camelo. We’ve combined shift scheduling, time tracking, and team communication into one app. You don’t have to jump between spreadsheets, chat apps, and emails anymore.
Make staying organized a habit
It might be hard at first to stick with the habit of staying organized at work physically, digitally, and mentally. But once you’ve maintained it consistently, you’ll pick up the habit without ever knowing that you do.
Try to experiment with different tips above and see which one really works for you. Soon you’ll be more organized, happy, and motivated.