social-network_110002633-012814-intCool Hacks To Get Organized At Work

Doug Fisher – Boardroom Metrics

“Organized people are just too lazy to look for things”

“He’s CDO, OCD with all the letters in order… as they should be”

“A clean desk indicates a sick mind”

You have heard all the jokes about those rare people who keep their professional life highly organized.

Of course, the same people who tell those jokes also poke fun at the people who adopted their resolutions and succeeded in living healthy since January.

At the end of the day, they also wish they could be organized as well.  People who are disorganized know it costs them in many ways including time lost, embarrassment suffered, and lost stature in the eyes of their peers.

That is why getting organized is the #2 New Years resolution every year.  Whether secretly or openly, we admire highly organized people!

How does one get organized in the workplace?  Here are the four most important elements of my organizational system:

  1. You Are What You See

Take a day… two if you must.  Organize your work space.  Eliminate everything (yes, everything) you do not need.  Label your files folders and put them in hangers.  Make your first two files To-Do and Pending and then alphabetize the rest; I’ll explain why later.  Only keep the files you need.   Organize your drawers and put everything in them that used to clutter your desk and that you actually need.  To review…

(a) Keep only what you need in your work area

(b) Put everything you need away, always in it’s specific place

(c) Files neatly labeled and containing only what is needed

Can you picture my desk?  That’s right… only my monitor, keyboard, mouse and what I am working on right now.  Not one other thing.  Not one.  Everything has a place and it’s in that place, nowhere else.  This is not difficult.  In fact, it’s easy.  It’s just an attitude adjustment moving toward your bold statement… “I am an organized person”!

Without exception, every time I touch something in my office, it is put where it belongs unless I am working on it right now.  If something urgent comes up, I put away my work properly and I address what I must.  When that is completed and put away, I bring out what I was previously working on.  Everything has a place and it stays in that place.  When you do this every day, you will start to feel organized and you are on your way!

  1. There’s An App For That

If you have devices, you have apps.  There are hundreds designed to help you get organized.  Because all of my computers and devices are Apple, I use many of the native Apple apps.  Here are the apps that work best for me:

Trello – Everything I must do, buy, remember, and every resource list I maintain is in Trello, the ultimate collaborative list manager

Calendar – Every single time commitment is on my calendar app using separate colors for personal and professional but on one screen

Contacts – Every person I meet goes in Contacts and yes, I take the time to enter every possible detail (take a close look at the available fields) as well as notes from every future encounter with a date/time stamp

BCR Plus – This handy application scans any business card and adds the data to my Contacts in seconds using my iPhone

Photos – This may shock you but this app allows me to take a photo of anything (like a white board session), store the pics in albums to match my contacts, and label them appropriately for quick retrieval

I have more beloved apps but that list will surely be another blog on another day.  These apps help me stay organized and I have them on all my computers and devices without exception.

  1. Guard Your Time

The number two inhibitor on your journey to workplace organization will be interruptions.  While I cherish my open-door policy because I want everyone to know they can speak their opinion any time, I often hear their quick comment and ask them to schedule a time for me to respect and explore their thoughts.

You must guard your time or the working world will gobble it up and you will never get it back.  Your calendar allows you to not only represent your available time to others but to schedule your work so there is always time blocked to do what you must.  I schedule time for my To-Do and Pending lists three days every week.  I also schedule time for meetings, calls, and brainstorming or mind-mapping sessions.  My day always starts with time budgeted to examine the previous day including company performance.  The remaining time can be obtained by others through a request.

I find it fairly easy to both encourage human interaction and guard my time as well.  You will too with this system.  You will enjoy waving goodbye to the office rat race because… you are not a rat!

  1. Just Do It

Remember when I asked you to label your first two paper files To-Do and Pending.  This should be your first two sub-folders in your email app as well.  Tip – Name them 1 To-Do and 2 Pending to keep them at the top of the list).  Likewise, make your first two lists in Trello (or your list app) To-Do and Pending.

Every time you have something to do that is not urgent, add it to your to-do list, either in your paper file, email, or in Trello.  Every time someone commits to something or you feel inclined to monitor progress, put it in your pending file.

Now… go to your calendar and block time daily or every other day to do your to-do’s and pending lists.  When your to-do/pending alarm goes off, shut your door, put your phone on ‘do not disturb’, and focus entirely on completing your to-do lists… paper, email and Trello.  Then go through your pending folders and ensure everyone who owes you something has followed through.  If not, ping them again and they will say to themselves… “Wow, Susan is really organized and I know I always need to follow-up with her when I make a commitment or am asked for something”.

When you start to get organized, there will be challenges.  I am here for you when you have questions.  Just be diligent.  Your life is about to improve dramatically.  I guarantee this!  Just follow this system and stay with it for a few weeks.  Soon, you will feel amazing because you are organized… and others will notice too.  You will have free time to invest as you wish.  I cannot wait to hear your story of the organization revolution that changed your life!

I hope this discussion on the getting organized at work has you thinking.  Best…


“When you’re green, you’re growing’ when you’re ripe, you’re rotten”