Keeping your desk, tasks and emails organized will help you be successful at work — without ripping your hair out. Here’s how to get started.
Starting your first job can be overwhelming and intimidating. You’re eager to prove yourself, produce quality work and stay on top of things — which you can do by mastering the art of staying organized.
Right from the get-go, you’ll want to explore the advice and tools available to get yourself organized. By keeping your desk, tasks and emails organized, you’ll be on the right track for performing successfully at work — without ripping your hair out. (Click to Tweet!)
1. Create a routine
On your first day of work, start an organizational system. Before you receive a significant workload, you’ll have an established routine to keep you on track. Use an app like Evernote, which you can access on your computer and mobile device, to track information, lists, tasks and more. Ask employees who do similar work what their organizational method is and any advice they can give.
If your company uses a specific software, adapt to its various uses and organizational properties. For example, construction workers who don’t use the normal office organization techniques should check out software that’s specific to their industry.
2. Actually use your email calendar
A great way to stay on top of meetings, deadlines and tasks is to use the existing calendar on your email account. Whether you choose your work email calendar or a Gmail account, it’s helpful to mark all events on the calendar. Since you’ll constantly be using your email, you’ll have easy and consistent access to this calendar.
You can also use the calendar to add alerts, particularly for recurring events. If you have a weekly meeting, set up your calendar to automatically remind you. Similarly, you can use your work calendar to invite and set up meetings with coworkers.
3. Have a central to-do list
You may prefer to write tasks down on paper or use websites designed to keep you on track, such as Basecamp. Basecamp allows you to see all of your assignments, update their status and cross them off when finished.
Organize your to-do list by creating a color-coding system to distinguish priority level or related subjects. If you keep your to-do list electronically, cross items off rather than deleting them. This way, you’ll still be able to keep track of finished assignments and feel a sense of accomplishment.
4. Don’t drop the ball on email
As your position develops, you’ll start to receive countless emails each day. Learning early how to prioritize and organize them will benefit you greatly throughout your career.
Most email providers come with tabs and filters to organize emails into categories, including the ability to “flag” emails as important. This will also help you to quickly decipher which emails hold precedence, although you should generally reply to every email as soon as possible.
Find a system that best works for you and for achieving your tasks. You may also want to invest in an email organization app. Yahoo! Voices suggests Thunderbird, an app designed to keep all of your email accounts in one place while providing organizational tools.
5. Make your workspace work for you
You’re going to spend the majority of your day in your office, your car or wherever your workspace is. Remember to keep this space clean and organized. If you primarily do work at a desk, it’s essential to your organization and sanity to keep it from getting out of control. In fact, messy desks can be dangerous.
Keeping your physical space clean and your virtual workspace organized will help you stay focused and on-task at work. The only way to stay on top of all your assignments while delivering quality work is to learn to prioritize tasks with extreme organization. Using these tips, you’ll find that organization is not the daring feat you might have once viewed it as.
Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business and Spin Sucks.