This post is an extract from my book How to Be Organized at Work – High Achiever Secrets to Taking Control, Saving Time and Achieving Goals Faster. Its available now at Amazon.com.
Finding Things Quickly
When everything has a place, you can find it quickly. It’s a lot like organizing your luggage. If you’re going to be living out of your suit case for a few days, you don’t want the clothes you are planning to wear on the first day, packed on the bottom of the suitcase. Instead, you pack those clothes on top, then the clothes for the second day beneath that and so on. That way, what you need is easy to find and easy to get to.
Organization doesn’t need to be difficult, the point is to make things easier. You don’t have to use the Dewey Decimal system to arrange your books, instead arrange them by subject or frequency of use. It doesn’t make much sense to keep open files that you are currently working on, down the hall in a filing room. You’ll just end up wasting time running back and forth from your work space to the file room.
Instead, you should designate a place on or in your work station to keep open files. Likewise, it doesn’t make sense to juggle old files at your work station. If you haven’t used it recently, find a permanent place for it so that you don’t have to worry about it and it won’t clutter your work space.
Most carpenters understand this concept. They may have a garage full of tools, but they only bring the tools they are likely to use to the job site. And of those tools, they only put the ones they use most frequently in their tool belt. They may need their hammer several times throughout the day and their cordless drill only once. It doesn’t make sense to be weighted down with tools they won’t need very frequently.
Likewise, it doesn’t make sense to go back and forth between their work and their tool box every time they need to hammer something. So they keep certain tools in their belt so it easy to find whenever they need it. They keep some tools in their work truck so they’ll have them when they need them. And they keep the rest of their tools at home until they have a job where those tools are needed.
Finding things quickly will make your life much more enjoyable. You won’t be stressed trying to keep up with everything in your mind. You won’t have to search through stacks and drawers and file cabinets every time you need something. Just as you keep your kitchen organized and you know exactly where to look for a plate, you can organize your work space so that you find things quickly.
You’ll also look better when your superior needs something from you. An employee who can find what they need quickly and easily project an image of success. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving the people who have influence over your career the impression that you are dependable and organized.
Organization That Works For You
Being organized shouldn’t be a burden. It should fit like a glove. It should make sense to you. It should be natural, almost second nature. When you discover an organizational system that fits you, it will be easy to implement and seem logical. Organization isn’t about being rigid, or following rules. It should be simple and helpful so that you can get things done.
We all have natural talents, preferences, skills and unique ways of doing things. In this book we’ll call these things your strengths. In most cases people buck against their strengths. They think they should build up their weaknesses and end up neglecting the very things that can really help them get ahead in their career and life.
You need to embrace your strengths, those things that make you unique are the very things that make you valuable to your company, family and friends. Your organizational system should fit your strengths. If you’re the kind of person who works best through long periods of uninterrupted focus, you should have an organizational system that keeps everything you might need close at hand.
If on the other hand, you work best in short bursts, it might be better to keep the things you need in other places. Or if you feel cramped with a lot of things on your desk, you’ll need a system that allows you to put things away. Conversely, if you prefer to keep things you are working where you can see them, you might set up a system where the most current projects stay on your work station.
There is no wrong organization system, although many will be wrong for you. Your goal is find the system that works for you and then work that system. Organization is only as useful as you make it be. For instance you can have a great system, but if you don’t utilize it you’ll be no better off. On the other hand, if your system is too complicated or takes too much time to work, you’ll won’t be much better off.
The goal is to find the simplest way to keep track of all the things involved with your job, so that you can spend the maximum amount of time working and accomplish more than you could before the organizational system was put in place.
You can be organized. Let me say that again, YOU can be organized. Even if you have never been organized in any task or part of your life, you can learn to be organized. I’m going to show you how.