Volumes of articles, books and manuals have been written on time management and organization in the workplace. We read all with good intentions, but seldom follow through with any real commitment. And yet we feel overwhelmed and stressed at work. A little organization will relieve that stress in your work day. It will result in having more confidence in yourself when dealing with customers, competitors and supervisors. Let’s touch on a few easy ways to begin the process.
Control Your Clutter
A messy, cluttered office can result in incomplete work, missed deadlines and lost information. Your desk is not a storage locker, it’s a work surface. It is time to remove those piles of paper occupying your desktop, floor and shelves.
The worst decision you can make is not making a decision about those piles, because no paperwork decision = greater paper buildup. All documents need to have a home, just as your silverware, pots and pans and dishes have their specific homes in your kitchen.
There really aren’t very many choices for processing paper. Tossing into the circular file is a very good option for some. Others to files for future reference, or your follow up system for papers you need at some later time, plus an ongoing project system, or passing some on to staff if you can.
Remember, the time spent searching through your office for a piece of paper, phone number or customer’s address is unproductive time and only increases stress. Allowing a few minutes each day to process paperwork pays off in time saved. As your business and responsibilities grow, so does the amount of paper. Don’t let it pile up, as this is when opportunities are lost and stress and chaos set in.
Control how others affect your productivity. Where is it written that every time the phone rings you MUST answer it? If the constant intrusions cut your productivity, decide when you will answer it and when you will let others (staff, voice mail or a message recorder) answer the phone for you.
Occasionally you will need quiet time to work on a project or report, to prepare a speech or presentation, or work up an estimate. That’s one time to let the phone be answered for you.
If your business is home based, establish clear rules for how and when, if ever, you may be distracted by family members. Let them know a closed door always means “do not disturb,” or “knock first.” This may be hard to enforce at times. Explain that by working uninterrupted, tasks are accomplished expeditiously, and in the long run you will have more time to spend with family. In a business office with several people working in a restricted area, the tendency is to chitchat and gossip during the day. This is a great waste of productive time. By tactfully removing yourself and discouraging socializing, you have gained that time back.
Being organized requires commitment – your commitment – to try something new and to break old bad habits. The methods and techniques I offer are simple, easy to learn, and I guarantee they will work and your job will be a whole lot easier. You will also notice that you are less stressed.
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