Improve Organizational Skills With These Tips

Julie Shenkman
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Running a business without a plan can slow your progress and make your workload seem unmanageable. Whether you're a rising executive or entry-level assistant, organizational skills are the key to prioritizing your to-do list and allocating time to the most important tasks. Follow these simple tips to improve your efficiency and develop organizational skills that help you achieve more in less time.

1. Systematize Your Workspace

If you frequently waste time hunting for the right materials, rearrange your workspace to keep the most commonly used supplies in close reach. Reserve spaces for incoming and outgoing work to gather important materials in one place where you and co-workers can easily find them. Labeling file holders, cabinets and desk trays can help you remember to return items to the right places, while color coding is useful for categorizing work for quick retrieval.

2. Plan Workdays in Advance

Instead of handling duties as they arise, make a to-do list for the next day, and prepare in advance. Decide what information or materials you need to complete each task, so you can touch base with team members and prioritize projects that don't require outside input. Good organizational skills also enable you to evaluate different approaches and potential problems ahead of time, helping you draft a functional plan before you start.

3. Consolidate Calendars and Apps

Digital tools are invaluable for building organizational skills, but navigating between a wide variety of programs can gradually clutter your virtual workspace. Use one calendar to manage your business schedule, and whenever possible, link apps to a centralized hub where you can get updates from all your databases at once.

4. Schedule Email Sessions

Checking email suddenly becomes urgent when you're looking for reasons to procrastinate. Keep your urges under control by scheduling two to three email sessions per day, such as in the morning, after lunch and the end of the workday. If communications are a significant part of your job, write a list of all issues or questions you need to discuss with each contact to reduce unnecessary correspondence.

5. Learn Your Peak Productivity Times

Productivity tends to rise and fall in cycles, and you can increase organizational skills by knowing which times or work conditions produce the best results. For example, if you're not a morning person, try warming up your mind with short tasks that require less concentration. Schedule the most intense tasks during your high-focus periods, and commit to working for set time periods before taking a break. Working in blocks creates personal accountability, helping you avoid giving in to distractions.

6. Shorten Meetings

Frequent meetings interrupt your mental flow and make it difficult to sustain productivity. In many cases, a formal meeting is unnecessary, as the same information could be shared in a quick phone call or email. Try to shorten essential meetings by 25 percent, suggests David Lavenda, VP of product strategy at Show up prepared with talking points or questions to keep conversations on track, and avoid wasting time on off-topic chatter.

Organizational skills can improve with experience, especially as you learn what increases or decreases your motivation. Because team obligations influence your schedule, adopt practices that enable you and your co-workers to collaborate efficiently.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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