Everyone has had one of those days. The phone is ringing off the hook, your in-tray is starting to resemble a small mountain, your diary is full and before you know it, it’s 4pm. Where did the day go?!
While every now and then those days are unavoidable, you can take control and keep them to a minimum with effective planning and organisation techniques. Becoming a ‘prioritisation pro’ or an ‘organisation master’ will help you to tackle a busy schedule and maximise your efficiency at work.
The benefits of good planning and organisation techniques speak for themselves. Quite simply put structured workload = less stress = happy you. It may take a little effort and some getting used to at first, but changing how you work can turn around how you feel at the office. Good planning can boost your mood, motivation and productivity.
Here are some great organisation techniques to think about:
1. Write it down
This may seem patronisingly obvious but honestly, how many times did “I’ll remember that – I don’t need to write it down!” fast become “What did they say?”. Having a written record of a task will act as a reminder, and including as much information as possible means that you won’t overlook any important details of what you need to do.
That being said, try to avoid wallpapering your workspace with a million errant Post-it notes or littering your desk with stray pieces of paper. You’ll only end up confusing yourself and you may overlook something important, which will lead to more stress. It’s diary time, ladies and gents!
Having a daily diary or planner will give you a visual of how your workload for the day is looking. This way you can prepare yourself to plough through it and decide how to go about it. Be sure to tick off each task as you complete them. This will not only help you know where you’re up to, but will also keep you motivated. It’s super satisfying seeing that task list get shorter and shorter!
2. Have a priority system
Your ‘to-do list’ may seem endless and people don’t seem to stop asking you to do more things – so, how do you approach this? By prioritising your workload.
Once you’ve written down your tasks for the day, decide what order they need to be done in. Which ones have deadlines approaching? What needs to be done first? What can wait until later in the day? Then stick to this order. (A great way to do this is by using a colour code!)
It’s tempting to put off the things we don’t like doing, but the more you do it, the more you’ll dread them! Tackling them at the first opportunity gets those niggling duties out of the way. You’ll be glad once they are.
Prioritising your daily work will help you to leave the office feeling much more relaxed because all of your important things are done. This means there will be no last minute panic when you realise you’ve forgotten to do something that’s due by the end of the day. You’ll be on top of things, cool and collected.
3. Don’t be afraid to speak up
“Could you just…?”, “Would you be able to…?”, “Can you…?”. When a Manager or colleague comes to you with a task, it can distract you from your workload as you may feel pressured to do it straight away. It’s great to want to help people out, but when you have your own work to contend with, you need to find a balance that works for you and your colleagues. Ask them when they realistically need this done by so you can factor this into your task list.
If, even after trying to employ some new planning and organisation techniques, you are still struggling with your workload, have an honest discussion with your Manager. It won’t paint you in a bad light, in fact they’re more likely to appreciate and respect your honesty. Admitting you’re having some trouble is much better than sitting in silence while your work suffers and you miss deadlines. They may be able to alleviate some pressure, or offer new perspectives on ways of working that could completely revolutionise your work day.
Go on, tidy that desk, open that diary and delve into a brand new pack of highlighters. Are you ready? It’s time to conquer your work day with organisation techniques!