8 Ways to Stay Organized at WorkOn August 11, 2017 by Samantha Jean
As a working mom, you learn that you have to be organized. It isn’t good enough to just stumble on through the day anymore because that’s how appointments get forgotten, dishes get left in the sink, baths get skipped—you get the idea. It’s hard enough being a mom, and it’s hard enough being a business professional, so it would make sense, then, that being a working mom has its own set of very unique challenges that one has to navigate. And as such, I’ve found that my ability to remain (decently) organized has been a huge lifesaver in all facets of my life.
If you’re like me, you work a full-time job. Personally, I work at a desk job, so much of my time is spent in Outlook and other software programs. My days are also sometimes littered with meetings and sudden fires that require my immediate attention. So, for those of you like me—or even those who don’t work full-time or at all (these tips might be beneficial anyway)—here are some of the ways I manage to stay afloat during my 8 to 5.
The people I work with joke with me that I am overly organized. Sadly, this may be true. I’m going to argue it a little bit because ever since my daughter was born, my memory has been horrible, thus resulting in some missed tasks and appointments, and that is NOT considered organized. But for my inbox, I make a general rule that I work out of my e-mails or reminders that pop up on my calendars. It’s essentially my to-do list. And when the scroll bar shows up in my Outlook e-mails, that’s an indication for me that I need to get something figured out and slash those tasks off my to-do list. Creating and using folders helps me a ton, and so does deleting e-mails after I am done with the task. If I need to check on something in two weeks, I generally add a reminder to my calendar, but I delete it from my emails. If it is something I need to save for information that I may need in six months, I put it in a folder. Summary—if it’s in my inbox, it’s a task that I need to get done. I feel less overwhelmed this way. I don’t think I’ll ever understand people who let their email inbox fill up and contain 50 or more emails. It makes me itch just thinking about it.
Calendar usage, people!
Outlook calendars are amazing. Or any app or software that you can practically live out of, really. I put all my work functions in my calendar, but I also put my personal items in there, too. That way I know if I need to be out of the office at a certain time, need to remember to swing by somewhere, or just know where my free time lies in general. I go so far as to put reminders in my calendar as to when I should be flipping my mattress, how often I should be washing my pillows, or what night is tortellini casserole night. Don’t laugh—I’m not crazy. It works. And it doesn’t have to be Outlook. There are tons and tons of apps out there that you can put right on your phone that can help you navigate your busy life. Have a playdate Saturday at 1PM? Log it in your calendar so you can get all your errands done before that and have the decency not to show up late.
Plan your biggest tasks during your most productive time
I am sure you’ve heard this somewhere and I am here to tell you it is, in fact, true. My productive time is in the morning, when I am relatively fresh at work, newly motivated, and highly caffeinated. I get stuff done quicker, I’m more focused, and I am generally excited about what I am working on. I seldom leave my large or challenging items for the afternoon. There is nothing worse than trying to be super focused while you watch people leave for the day, feel super full from that lunch you ate, or are trying to fight off a nap because the beautiful creation that is caffeine has left your body.
Dress like you know you’re important
This might seem out of place here, but it isn’t. Don’t you feel more productive when you look good? When I look like I can take on the world, I set out to take on the world. Heels, for example. I love the sound of heels on a floor. It’s power. If you’re a girl, you likely know what I mean. And if I am sitting at my desk looking like a professional who has her shit together and busting her work product out just like that, then I feel more motivated to live up to the challenge. That’s not to say I don’t have days where my fashion game is not on point, because I do, but when I look the part, I for sure know I act the part.
For the love of God—Notes
I do many different tasks at my job. A lot. Some are things I do once a week. Some are things I do once a year. Some are things that I only have to deal with when they happen, which could be once every three years, and who honestly remembers details for something they do every three years? That’s right. No one. And you know what helps me out when those off-the-wall things happen during my workday? Notes. I said it. And I’ll also say that I am not and have never been a huge note taker. I have horrible writing and it’s just no fun to create that chicken scratch. So, I choose my moments of note taking very wisely, but I can tell you that there have been times where those notes have honestly saved my butt. And I mentioned previously that my memory isn’t as good as it used to be, right? So, this helps that, too.
Make sure you have the necessary resources
I have a 12 month calendar tacked by my desk. I also have a list of all the phone numbers I need, a folder full of instructions and procedures on my desktop, an up to date Outlook calendar, and a very awesome support system through my coworkers. There is nothing worse than failing at a task because you didn’t have the necessary tools to perform it, or to perform it well. Know when your meetings are, know how to reach the people you need, know that if you don’t know how to do something, you took good notes (see above!), or you have people you are comfortable asking questions of. Don’t let yourself get behind or fail on something because you didn’t prepare yourself with what you needed to get it done in the first place.
Hold yourself accountable
We all have moments in our life where we realize we could probably get ourselves together a bit more, but there are few things in this world that warrant my irritation as much as people who don’t hold themselves accountable. If my boss asks me to do something, I take care of it, or I make a note and schedule a time to do so. I don’t make her tell me twice or respond with an “oh, I forgot”. I used to have to remind my ex-husband to do things 9 times and wait 3 months for them to get done, or I just did them myself because I would drive myself mad waiting. And if you want to be organized instead of a hot mess, then that is not acceptable anywhere in life. Again, we all have moments, but be sure those are the exceptions—not the rule. We are adults. Figure it out.
Be excited to be organized!
If you are reading this and you aren’t organized, you are probably laughing. That’s because the concept of being excited about something like this sounds a bit lame, but let me ask you this— do you feel happy, proud, or good about yourself when you missed a haircut appointment, forgot to pick up dog poop before a house showing, or missed the deadline on a project that was due to your boss’s boss? You don’t have to actually ask yourself that question because the only sane answer here is no. But you know what does make me feel pretty damn good about myself? Knowing I have my shit together! Like, yes my closet looks awesome because it’s organized and clean. Or, yes, I got that spectacular recent promotion because I’ve never dropped the ball on a large assignment. And that excitement in turn motivates me to make sure I stay organized so I can keep getting it right. If you are negative about the idea of getting your ducks in a row, then it will be miserable and you might as well just forget everything you just read (at that point I wonder, why are you even reading this?) But if being someone that has their head on straight is something you’re interested in, be excited about that!
Let’s not kid ourselves—organization can be tough! And some people just struggle with it more than others. However, it really is worth it to keep yourself together because being unorganized can be stressful, and who the heck wants that? I love hearing what works for other people as I’m all about trying to constantly better myself! If you have any recommendations, please share the wealth below!!