One of the most underrated yet crucial aspects of succeeding at work is staying organized. Of course, office life can get hectic. There are meetings to attend, a constant flow of important emails and a plethora of tasks calling your name, but in the midst of it all lies an opportunity to get organized.
A study conducted by the Society of Neuroscience, found that too much clutter creates distractions and as a result your brain isn’t sure what to address first. Not knowing where to start is overwhelming and costs precious time. Thankfully, there are several ways to decrease distractions and focus on what’s really important. Here’s a list of tips from the Ad Council staff to help you stay on track when it comes to your work.
1. Clear Your Space, Clear Your Mind
“I always find it helpful to take a look at my desk and work space to see what can be put in order or thrown away – a clear desk makes way for clear thinking. Once my desk is clean and tidy it’s often much easier to keep everything else organized.” – Alexis Rogers, PR & Social Media Intern
2. The Emptier the Inbox, the Better
“The best way I keep organized is the way that I sort my email. I use my inbox as a ‘to do list,’ meaning that if it’s still in my email it’s unresolved and I need to deal with it. Once I have addressed an email I file it away in a folder based on what it is about. That way I can visually see how much I still need to do, plus once I’ve completed everything I get the satisfaction of seeing my inbox empty.” – Olivia Vera, Assistant Campaign Manager
3. Plan it Out
“Carve out time to log your day(s). That way you can be cognizant of where your time is going. Also, try to use that time to plan your week/month.” – Ariba Jahan, Director of Innovation
4. Make a List
“I keep a running list of my top projects on the desktop of my computer. But my biggest strategy for staying organized is that any time I get an assignment I make sure to put it on my running list. Then, I look at my calendar and block off time to do that project. Sure, I may have meetings or something else pop up, but then I just reschedule accordingly. It’s a great way to stay on top of my projects and make sure I’m actually setting time aside to get them done!” – Angelia Roggie, Assistant Manager of Brand & Communications
5. Block Out
“Every week, block out two hours on your calendar for a day of your choice. No one can schedule anything for you during that time, but then you have time to sit and get work done without interruption.” – Meg Rushton, Vice President of Brand & Communications
6. Have a Top Three
“Be realistic about what you can accomplish and really focus in on those three things that are a priority, the rest is a distraction. My other tip is to update your to-do list before you leave for the night, so when you come in the next day you’re ready to jump right in.” – Margaret Files, Director of Public Relations & Social Media
7. Make it a Date
“I think that having usable timelines with actual deadlines called out is one of the best ways to stay organized…especially when juggling lots of different projects!” – Ben Dorf, Director of Public Relations & Social Media
8. Use an App or Two
“Keeping notes and a to-do list that’s shared between my computer and my phone, so that I always have them for reference wherever and whenever I’m working. I use Evernote mainly, but have also used Google Docs and Google Keep.” – David Imani, Assistant Manager of Public Relations & Social Media
9. Take Note
“Taking notes during a meeting and then sending them out as an email afterwards helps refresh people on what was discussed, and also gives everyone an easy-to-find, accessible paper trail to refresh their memory later.” – Sean Williams, Assistant Manager of Public Relations & Social Media
“In the subject line of an email, I always use the first letters of every word to abbreviate the subject as means of organizing the conversations and topics. So, if I am working on a campaign named Clear Desk, Clear Mind I would abbreviate the subjects of our emails as CDCM.” – Sam Ellman, Director of Digital
Don’t feel the pressure to fit all of these methods into your daily regimen. But one small step at a time can really make a big difference in how efficiently you get your work done. Try out your favorite tips to see which practices help boost your organization and productivity in the workplace the most!