Professional sitting at desk holding a mobile phone while writing in their planner

Having good organizational skills at work is a necessity if you’re determined to make a difference and achieve your career goals. If you’re disorganized and lack direction at work, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to perform at a high level. Lacking organizational skills leads to an unproductive work environment where you’ll fall behind and continually in catch-up mode. When you don’t use good organizational skills, you’ll find that you’re missing tasks and deadlines, and the farther behind you get, the more stress and anxiety you’ll have.

Developing the critical organizational skills you need is a simple matter of employing tried and true methods, allowing you to work smarter, not harder. Plus, using your skills on a daily basis will improve your work and separate you from your peers. Below is a list of 8 key strategies that you can utilize to improve your organizational skills at work, so you can efficiently plan your workday, complete tasks, and projects on time. 

Organizational Strategies to Implement to Increase Your Productivity

1. Start small 

Becoming organized and more productive at work isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take time, especially if you’re a chronic procrastinator. If you try to make too many changes too quickly, you’ll most likely get frustrated, discouraged, and feel overwhelmed. To avoid getting discouraged, take things slow and make small changes to start with. Setting small expectations and meeting goals will encourage you to continue your organization.

2. Manage your time

If you aren’t in control of your time, it will control you, which will lead to disorganization. Your job most likely pulls you in different directions at times, and you can easily get lost in the chaos if you aren’t careful of how you’re managing your time. When you start to control your time well, you’ll seize those moments of turmoil, determine what needs to be prioritized, and calmly plan your course of action to meet your goals. 

One of the biggest culprits of poor time management is allowing unnecessary and avoidable interruptions to disrupt your day. These might include personal conversations, your cell phone, useless meetings, or even social media. The more you block out these distractions, the more you can concentrate on what needs to be done.  

If you don’t know already, think about which part of the workday you’re most productive in. For some, it’s in the early morning when you first arrive at work. For others, it might be in the afternoon after lunch. Utilize this time to focus on your most demanding and challenging work. You might have to adjust this at times as business needs dictate, but for the most part, use this time to really get things done. Also, take advantage of technology to manage your time. You can find plenty of time management tools and apps, such as Any.Do, Asana, and Toggl to help you shave time off your day.

3. Plan

An old saying you’ve probably heard is that you need to plan for success. That saying is true. Success doesn’t happen on its own. Start planning by accessing what needs to be done tomorrow, next week, and beyond, and developing a plan of attack to conquer the tasks ahead of you. The key is to be proactive, not reactive. A disorganized person will only work on what’s right in front of them and come to work unprepared for the next assignment. Planning and preparing in advance will set you up for success. Before you leave work for the day, know what you need to do tomorrow and how you’re going to get it done. This avoids wasting time with guesswork and indecision as to what to do each day.  

So, how do you become a good planner? A proven way is to create lists of all the things you need to do each day. Lists provide a tangible way to track your tasks and see your results. You won’t have to remember what you’ve completed already and what still needs to be done, and you’ll find that you’ll forget or miss far fewer things. Cross off tasks as you complete them. This allows you to see your progress and gives you a sense of accomplishment, knowing that things are getting done. How you prepare your lists is up to you. You might utilize an app, type them on your pc, or use pen and paper. Regardless of the method you use, creating lists will help you focus and structure your day. 

4. Prioritize

An important part of becoming organized at work is to prioritize your work. A great way to do this is to create a schedule and stick to it. After you’ve made your list of assignments and projects, prioritize them however best works for you. Make a schedule and set a window of time to complete each task. This will help ensure that you’re meeting your deadlines and that nothing is falling through the cracks. Make sure that your schedule is realistic. Build some padding into your project windows that will allow for interruptions that inevitably will pop up from time to time. Prioritizing makes sure you don’t get bogged down in smaller tasks and end up not having enough time for the critical ones. When you learn to prioritize, you’ll start looking past today and tomorrow into next week or next month to assess what needs to be done and when. You’ll also find meeting those major deadlines will become much easier and less stressful. 

5. Remove all the clutter

If you can’t find where anything is because you have a mound of paperwork and other things cluttering your workspace, you’ll find it nearly impossible to be organized. Try to clean up your workspace at the end of each day so you’re ready to go the next morning. Make sure papers are filed, things are put back where they belong (and where you can find them), and anything you don’t need should be thrown away. A clear workspace is a key to staying organized and only takes a few minutes of your time to do. When you arrive in the morning to a clean, organized workspace, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running instead of wading through a mess to just find what you need. 

6. Set goals

When you set goals, you give yourself a target to reach, which is a great motivational tool. And when you meet those goals, you have a sense of accomplishment. Set daily goals, but also weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals. They don’t all have to be big. Accomplishing small goals can be as satisfying as getting big ones done. Goal setting isn’t something that should be written in stone, though. Review your goals frequently and be flexible, adding new goals and adjusting the ones you already have as needed. 

7. Delegate

Learning to delegate tasks to other team members will allow you more time to focus on critical projects or critical deadlines you have. Giving up control can be difficult, and many people don’t want to do that because they fear the task won’t get done correctly if they don’t do it themselves. Delegating doesn’t mean handing off a project to just anybody or assigning a task and forgetting about it. Decide which tasks you’re going to delegate and assess the skills of your team so you can delegate the right project to the right person. Trust that your team will do the job right. Don’t leave anything to chance when delegating. Make sure that your team member has a solid understanding of what the task is, what they need to do to accomplish it, and when they need to have it completed. Encourage them to ask questions if they are unsure about any aspect of the task you’ve given them to make sure they don’t get stuck or get behind.  

8. Collaborate with others

Collaboration is an excellent way to get different viewpoints, perspectives, and approaches to completing a project. Open discussion can lead to new and innovative ways to tackle a task. Collaboration is different from teamwork in that it isn’t about getting the team to work together to get done what you ask them to do. Collaboration is about different people injecting unique ideas you didn’t think of or coming at the project from different angles or with different goals in mind. Take advantage of the experience, knowledge, and skills your peers bring to the table. Not only will this improve your organizational skills, but it can also lead to strengthened relationships in the workplace. 

Ready to Put Your Organizational Skills to the Test?

Becoming a productive and organized part of the organization takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. Be realistic in the progress you make and expect that you’ll hit some bumps in the road along the way. Little improvements will add up, so be patient and stay on track. When you start to incorporate these 8 strategies into your work, you’ll soon see how much more you’re accomplishing every day and how you’ve reduced some of that stress. You’ll see a difference in how much you get done, how much more in control you are, and how much better you feel. 

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Peter Porebski is our Operations Director and a graduate of the University of Central Florida. He has over 13 years of operations and process improvement experience with 8 being in the HR and staffing industry. In previous roles he worked to manage and analyze production flow trends and determine areas of improvement in quality control for the commercial retail industry. His areas of interest include web development, information technology, and digital marketing. He lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife, cat, and lots of plants.