Posted on the 7th October 2015

How to… Get organised

Organising is a process, and like all good processes, it should create efficiency. When all is organised - in whichever aspect you choose to apply it, be it your desk, your social life, or your business - those aspects can run much more productively, because everything is right where you want it, when you need it. It’s all about the preparation. After all, if you baked a cake, you’d preheat the oven, weigh out your ingredients and have the recipe book open and ready at the right page before you threw the eggs into the bowl.

It was A A Milne who said: “Organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all messed up.” And wise words indeed. Occupational health studies have found that the more control you perceive yourself to have through being organised, the less stress you are likely to feel, and the more efficient you are for the mental clarity. Mess encourages procrastination, because you can’t see what you should really be working on when it seems like everything is piling up around you.

A survey from a few years ago revealed that 43% of office workers believe they are disorganised, and because of that, they work late at least two nights a week to meet deadlines, and 21% have missed deadlines altogether. Not surprisingly then, those disorganised office workers spend on average over an hour a day just looking for things around their workspace!

It’s not just about having spreadsheets, files and folders; categorised and colour coded, but balancing the workload, planning ahead whenever possible and scheduling your week’s activities. Spend a little time preparing and undertaking the task itself is typically more productive, less frustrating and can bring much better results.

So where do you start?

1. First, find freedom from the chaos and disorder by eliminating anything unnecessary from your workspace. In fact, start by moving that cup with the mould in it and the half eaten apple hidden under your monitor stand, please.

2. There’s also a lot to be said for therapeutically shredding anything that’s no longer needed, but isn’t suitable for general waste. Also do your bit for the environment by recycling old magazines, envelopes, post-it notes, business cards for companies no longer trading....

3. File anything that’s not current but should be retained. Sort it by client, or by supplier, and then take a look at the dates. Only legal and important documents – such as those related to finance and taxes – have to be retained for seven years just in case of audit. Everyday business documents, depending on your company policy, retain for between three months to a year. Even better, scan the documents, get them in the cloud, and go paperless!

4. Make a to-do list and look at the priorities. What’s got a deadline? Have you got to prepare for something? Set a reminder in your email or on your phone to beep and jog your memory. Factor in the time you need to do the task and tell people you need an hour of no interruptions to get it finished.

5. De-clutter your mind too. Sometimes it’s all too easy to have four things on the go, and lose track. That’s when mistakes happen – and you’ll double the time you lost trying to fix it. So if you lose focus, take a step back and grab a coffee. Then look at what you’re doing, pick the most pressing task, and finish it. Then cross it off your to-do list with a big fanfare!

With thoughtful distribution of regular tasks, a pattern of working can then emerge which means the time is already factored in to deal with the regular aspects of a role. Then, should something unlikely throw itself into the midst (which is often all too likely) you can avoid yelling ‘I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS RIGHT NOW!’ as you swear at the photocopier and give the phone stink-eye every time it rings.

So take a look at your workspace with organisation in mind. Can you do anything to make your work, and life, more streamlined? Is time being lost on a task that could be done a more efficient way? Spend an hour doing that organising today, and tomorrow you could save an hour of worthless searching... and it’ll be down to just simple maintenance to keep it all running smoothly. And no, it isn’t weird if you take great pleasure in putting things into chronological order, alphabetically.

Once you’ve got your desk organised, contact us and we could help organise your communications strategy.

Claire Averill
Claire Averill