Struggling to keep your desk clear of clutter? Feeling overwhelmed by projects? Deadlines and urgent tasks slipping through the cracks? You are not alone. In the hectic busyness of day-to-day life, it can be hard to keep organized. Unfortunately, it’s not a natural talent for most people, but it can certainly be learned! And a little bit of organization goes a long day in reducing stress and improving productivity. Here are some of our favorite tips and tools to get more organized in the office!
Organizational Tips for the Office
Take 5 to Prioritize
Have days where you feel overwhelmed with tasks, but 5pm hits and looking back it seems barely anything got done? During the course of the day, a hundred small tasks seem to rise up – emails to be answered, phone calls to make, information to look up. If you’re not careful, busy work eats up the day really fast. And there’s a difference between being busy and being productive.
In the moment, many of these things seem more urgent than they really are, and it’s easy to put off big tasks again and again. How do you battle this tendency? The trick is learning to prioritize. Take 5 minutes at the start of the day to decide what you want to get done that day. What are your goals?
One useful tip to decide your day’s priorities is to follow the 1-3-5 rule. Commit to completing one big thing, three medium things, and 5 small things. This is a good way to prevent getting overwhelmed and stay focused on the things that really matter.
Get Stuff Done With Time Blocking
Now you have your day’s priorities – how do you get them done? How do you actually, you know, prioritize those priorities with 100 small distractions fighting for attention?
One strategy many find to be extremely successful is time blocking. This is the practice of dividing your day into chunks and then dedicating each chunk of time to a specific activity.
9am-9:30am – Emails
9:30-11am – High Priority Project #1
11am-12pm – Lunch
12pm-1:30pm – High Priority Project #2
1:30pm-3pm – Low Priority Tasks
3pm – 5pm Meetings
This strategy helps prevent emails or other low priority tasks from interrupting high priority tasks. Reclaim your time for what is really important.
How To Battle Desk Clutter
Having a clean workstation is a no brainer when it comes to keeping organized. Of course, for most of us, that’s easier said than done. Files seem to magically accumulate… as do post it notes and office memos… pens seem to disappear instantly, though. Are we projecting? Maybe. But we know it’s not just us who has this problem.
There are about 5000 systems out there for dealing with this. From elaborate color-coordinated filing systems to Marie Kondo’s KonMari method. A lot of these go back (at least in part) to one centuries-old saying: “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
It’s easy to clear your desk of clutter if you dedicate a bit of time; it’s keeping it clear of future clutter that’s the hard part. Having a dedicated spot for each and every thing in your space makes it 10x more likely you’ll put it away. Plus, you’ll be able to find it immediately once you need it again.
Organizational Tools for the Office
Writable and Magnetic Walls
Writable and magnetic walls are the gift that just keeps giving. One great way they keep you organized is by providing a large enough workspace for your major projects. Take your complex projects that have turned into stacks of paper and post-it notes on your desk and put it all in one immediately visible spot while working. Writable walls are an especially great canvas for group projects, providing the space your team needs to review and brainstorm.
It’s the perfect spot to keep your notes and urgent tasks up and acting as a visible reminder – without creating desk clutter.
With a custom printed writable wall you can take its organizational capabilities even further. Incorporate a calendar, planner, blank sales chart, or any other visual organizational tool you use day-to-day.
Digital Organizer – Trello & Asana & ProofHub – Oh My!
There are dozens of these tools. And by “these tools” we mean digital organizers & project managers. All of which are potentially invaluable for staying on track. And we could give you our personal rankings of them, but frankly what works best for you is not necessarily what works best for us.
What’s important is finding what does work for you and then consolidating all your digital organizing needs on that one platform. Once upon a time we were using Google Sheets for Blog Planning, Trello for keeping track of long term marketing tasks, plus a to-do list browser extension for smaller daily tasks. How did having our tasks spread out over 3 tools work out?
It… didn’t. Because we definitely weren’t checking all three of these services consistently. All of these services have free trials (if not permanent free versions) so try them out, find one that works for your needs (ALL of your organization needs), and stick with it! Consolidating to one service that works for you is a complete game changer.
The Label Maker: Your New Office Hero
Ok so it’s a little old-school, doesn’t mean it’s not useful!! At the very least, you’re probably labeling files. And if you’re doing it by hand right now, do your coworkers a favor and consider an upgrade for better legibility. But if those are your only labels right now, you definitely need to consider more opportunities.
Let’s go back to that philosophy “a place for everything and everything in its place.” If in your decluttering you find a spot for everything, will you remember each of those locations? Labeling bins or shelves for supplies makes it easier to remember where everything goes. If you’re sharing office space with multiple people, labels are invaluable for making sure everyone follows the same organization system. This way, they’re putting things back where they belong and, just as importantly, can find what they need quickly.
A label maker is the difference between an office who gets organized… for a bit.. and an office that stays organized.
Upgrade Your Work Life
You have our tips and tools, so now it’s time to take action! You don’t need to overhaul your routine to start making a few changes. And the pay off is huge: less stress, fewer missed deadlines, less time hunting for a pen… Start small like improving your to-do list with the 1-3-5 rule and work up to bigger changes like time blocking or installing a writable wall. We believe in you!