Organisation is to a business what batter is to fish. Stay with me here!
Organisation. To some people, it comes as naturally as breathing. They wake up organised, sweep effortlessly through their organised day, and go to bed, with the following day already set up in their minds. Other people hate it. They prefer a little less…structure, like to live on a wing and a prayer…to see where the tide takes them. There’s a place for both in life. Business, however, is a different story.
Business thrives on organisation. To make the most out of it, you have to plan ahead, see the bigger picture, and keep on top of things. You, and your business, need to run like a well-oiled machine. This not only reduces time wasted, (and therefore money lost), but gives a strong outward impression to your clients – and potential new clients. Think about it – would you give your hard earned money to a builder who couldn’t organise themselves to respond to emails quickly? Or to a personal trainer who couldn’t organise themselves to keep appointments? Exactly.
Which brings me to my advice for staying organised at work. I’m a natural organiser. In fact, a professional organiser. I love it. I make lists for everything from shopping, to gift-giving, to daily tasks. So for those of you who feel like things are running a little out of control, here is my two-penneth.
1. Use a calendar. I strongly recommend you use a digital one, whether it be on your phone, the Outlook calendar, Google calendar or another. These can be written, re-written, adapted, colour-coded and synced with other systems. Paper-based calendars, whilst within the comfort zone of some people, are limited in many ways. Put every meeting and appointment in them. Every. Single. One. They highlight clashes quickly and reduce the risk of that embarrassing double-booking situation. At the end of every day, check your calendar for the following day so you already know what’s in store when you turn up for work!
2. Use alerts in your calendar for important things that must not be missed, e.g. conferences, deadlines, etc. These reminders will flash up on your device a set amount of time before the event. They are literally like a having your own Personal Assistant reminding you to go to your ‘working lunch with Jerry’.
3. Set time aside for any long-standing, ongoing tasks. The danger with these tasks is that they can either take up too much time, preventing you from doing other things, or get forgotten about entirely. Setting time aside to regularly chip away at them means neither of the above happen – result!
4. Emails - make sure you have a system! Whatever system works for you. Personally, (I’m sure this won’t surprise you), I use a sub-folder system and file every single email that doesn’t require action, so that it’s out of my inbox. Therefore I know that emails left in my inbox requite some sort of input. I’ve worked with others who keep every email in their inbox. Whilst the idea of this brings me out in a cold sweat, if it works for you then great. Just make sure you have some sort of system that means you can find emails quickly and easily when you need to, and that none get lost in the ether.
5. Make lists! (Come on, you knew it would be in here somewhere!). Whether you choose to do this using one of the many apps, websites or even on paper, make sure you review it at least daily. You could even go one step further and number or colour-code it to prioritise important tasks. Review the list at the end of every day, getting rid of any done tasks and adding any new ones. Trust me, crossing off everything you’ve achieved at the end of a long day is nothing short of therapeutic.
So there you have it – my 5 top-tips for staying organised at work.
Which, in a rather neat and organised way, brings me back to the start. “Organisation is to a business what batter is to fish.” Some people love it, others don’t, but it undeniably encompasses something delicate, and stops everything from falling apart.