We’re living at a time when organization has suddenly become very en vogue. Thanks to Netflix, we have Marie Kondo in our homes to teach us how to tidy up; Khloe Kardashian has brought us her Khlo-CD segments, and the fanciest cookie jars ever seen; and real housewives (lookin’ at you, Heather Dubrow!) have staging refrigerators.
In a world where it seems everyone has it all together, it can be discouraging when we don’t feel like we do. But, I’m here to tell you organization is personal. Let me repeat: Organization is personal.
Highlight it. Underline it. Make it your morning mantra.
One person’s organized isn’t another’s, and it doesn’t have to be. My principles of organization: it’s personalized, it’s developed over time and it’s ultimately what works best for the individual.
Personally and professionally, I’ve found what works for me through trial and error over years and countless planners, Outlook calendars and Post-it notes.
I always tell my team to try out different ways to find what works best for them, and when they find something that sticks, keep it up! How do you know if your method or system is working? I gauge it a few ways: no missed deadlines, efficient time management and not feeling overly anxious or stressed about everything on that to-do list.
Below are a few ways I keep myself organized. Try them. Test them out. Stick to what works or try something else.
1. Write it down. I refuse to abandon a written planner and calendar. I just can’t. I live by my daily to-do lists.
2. Distill it down. Speaking of to-do lists, I have more than one. I know, it sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. I have a master to-do list with ongoing and long-term projects and tasks. That way, nothing is really falling through the cracks. Then, for more immediate tasks due in the short-term, I have a shorter weekly list and then I use Post-it notes to call out those tasks.
3. Put things on your calendar ASAP. Meetings, appointments, PTO – I make sure it’s all on my Outlook calendar right away. This way, I’m not forgetting to add it later, and I’m making sure my team is informed well ahead of time.
4. Declutter your work space. Cluttered space, cluttered mind. Very zen, right? If my space isn’t organized, I can’t fully concentrate. Everything should have a home or spot where it’s meant to go at your desk, in your office or at your work station. And it’s totally okay if your organized is organized chaos – as long as you can efficiently find things and effectively get your work done, that’s all that matters.
5. Toss it. Even with technology, email and electronic files, a lot of us are still guilty of keeping way too many hard copy files, myself included. For all those pesky papers, get yourself a nice file folder system. File anything you will need long-term, but anything you won’t need after a month, toss it. And by toss it, recycle it if you can.
I’m no Marie Kondo — a girl can dream, right? — but I hope there’s something you can take away from what I’ve shared. Finding your organization system can be key to helping you stress less, keep your mind clear and crush it at work.
Senior Account Director, Ashley Wroblewski, putting her organizational tips to use.