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8 Lessons You can Learn from Organized People

Your desk is buried under heaps of paper. Your email inbox is never empty. And you’re running late for your next meeting. We all have days like this. However, if this is your LIFE, then it’s time to do something about it and learn how to be more organized.

With a poorly organized desk, you’re going to lose important documents - resumes, invoices, maybe even checks! If your email inbox is never empty, it means someone, somewhere, is waiting for a reply to you, and it’s stopping them from doing their job. If you’re running late for yet another meeting, you’re not respecting other people’s time. Ultimately, not being well-organized can eat into your career potential.

If your day-to-day is simply too unorganized, too chaotic, too BUSY, then it’s time to look for solutions, not just to make your life easier, but also the lives of those around you.

Being a well-organized person means you have control over your life. You get to decide what happens and when, instead of constantly reacting to events. Some people are born organized, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t learn and improve.

Benjamin Franklin is known to have said “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” While his estimations might be slightly off, the principle is correct.

While it might be against your natural instincts to slow down and take a moment to get organized, if you do, your increased productivity will certainly make up for the investment.

Here are eight tips for how to be more organized:

1. Have a strong email game!

Deal with emails NOW - but only if you’ve got time. Don’t have time to deal with an important email? Then don’t open it - you’ll only have to read it again when you want to act on it. 

Putting things “on hold” only serves to waste time. If you don’t have time to deal with it now, delegate it to someone who can, because before you know it, it’ll be buried with even more “urgent” emails. There are three steps to dealing emails that should all done in the same sitting:

Open > Respond/Resolve/Delegate > Delete/File

Set aside time to deal with emails.

Do not constantly flit between something you’re working on, and responding to emails. Emails are an interruption, a distraction, but if you handle emails like you would a project - dedicating a block of time to them - you’ll find you won’t get so distracted when working on other projects.

Don’t panic, you can still use features such as alerts for the most important senders, but do yourself a favour and save the rest until you reach your dedicated block of time.

2. Start your day with your least favorite task

Procrastination is something even the most productive people can become a victim of, especially if it’s tackling a task or project that does nothing to excite them. The difference is that productive, well-organized people recognize this is a problem, and start their day with this task—getting it out of the way first thing. The rest of the day is then free to work on other, more inspiring, and interesting projects!

3. Make use of technology to work smarter, not just harder!

There are numerous tools and apps out there that are intended to help busy people be more organized - Teams, Planner, Trello, Slack, Evernote, Asana to name a few! Take the time to investigate a few, or have someone do it for you, but either way, don’t ignore technology. Used properly, your investment in learning how to use a better tool can save a lot of time.

Use cloud-based email and calendars so you and your team can login anywhere, anytime, from any device, allowing them to remain consistently productive - not just when they are are in the office.

4. Try working part-time from a remote location

Many busy executives work part-time from a remote office or quiet workstation. The change in environment and undistracted time can allow for the ‘Deep Work’ author and Georgetown professor Cal Newport prescribes.

If you have staff members who are well-organized, their productivity levels can go through the roof with remote working. Organized people are productive people, regardless of their work location.

5. Recognize when you need help

If your workload pile has grown into a mountain, it might be time to get help. Consider hiring temporary staff to ease the burden and free up much needed time for yourself. Time is money, and it’s estimated a manager loses 1 hour a day to disorder, costing a business up to $8,125/yr on a $65,000 salary.

Hiring someone you can delegate to can be a incredible boost to productivity.

It might be time for an executive assistant to take your calls, manage your calendar, keep you on time for meetings and prioritize your email. Hiring new staff can be time-consuming and expensive - especially if you only need help in the short-term. Working with a partner, you can attract talent that directly fits to your specific sector, scenario and environment. Many companies have extensive networks of business and technology professionals, and can offer scalable, as-needed "expertise on demand" to help you achieve your workforce goals.

6. Focus on what moves the needle.

The increasingly rapid adoption of technology and flattening of many organizations is making the workplace more of a distraction-place. Organized people have become even more vigilant at protecting their time and returning to priorities.

If you have too much on your plate and can’t get to everything, a) see point #5 above and b) review your day’s to-do list (which, as a side note, you should compile at the end of every work day), and determine which are going to have the biggest impact - usually in terms of revenue, but this differs between organizations.

7. Often good enough is good enough

Being organized does not mean being perfect. I remember a mentor once saying “If it’s 90%, it’s good to go”. Often reaching the last 10% of perfection can be the difference from “Just shipping it” as blogger and author Seth Godin would say or more hours invested with little return. Unless you are a concert violinist, perfectionism is a deterrent to completion.

It’s all about time allocation and work expectations.

  • A financial planner must be exact about client buy orders. And sometimes a one-line email to staff reply will suffice.
  • A project management team needs to be precise with budgeting. But folding chairs in the conference room might be good enough.
  • You could use more time to prepare for your presentation, but you will perform better if you have a good night’s sleep.

Once you let go of the pressure to be perfect, you can enjoy the freedom to choose where you put your attention.

8. Trust in the experts

Sometimes it’s simply not worth your time. In his book, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill.

What he didn’t say, was that this was always a good idea!

Unless it is your craft and an investment in skills will pay dividends into the future, it could be time to delegate or outsource.

For example, your business needs website help. You can learn the skills or spend 30 minutes writing and editing a brief and outsource the work.

Organized people know their strengths and when to reach out. Build your network of experts, but don’t think of them as a cost—they are making you money because you are free to do what you are an expert at.

Like any skill, organization takes practice. But if you’re really committed to effective productivity, streamlining your life and reducing stress, then that practice will be worth it.

Liked this post? Here are more posts on this topic:

Contact me at Rosalyn.arntzen@amaxra.com or call 425 749 7471 if you have any questions or comments on this blog.

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