I have worked in corporate America since 2003. I have worked in accounting or finance in some form or fashion every job since. For nearly 15 years I have been working in a fast-paced environment. This is the view from my desk.
5 Tips for Getting (and Staying) Organized at Work
These are the top things I do in order to keep up with the ever moving business environment.
- Use OneNote or a notebook to keep a running to do list. I actually prefer a notebook over OneNote only because I do not have my laptop with me at all times. The notebook, on the other hand, is always handy. If I get a thought and don’t want to forget, the notebook is at my fingertips. If I need to ever review minutes from a meeting, it is in my notebook. Also, I never finish a to do list in one day. My job just doesn’t work that way. My notebooks allow me to be able to keep up with my ever growing to do list. (My friend Julie even puts boxes next to each item so she can check them off when she is done.)
- Use your Outlook calendar to help manage your day. I like to schedule time to work on critical items. This helps to deter meeting invites during times when I have big, looming deadlines. It isn’t a fool proof method, but it helps. Also, it reminds me that I have a deadline approaching. It is easy to forget about items that were discussed a few days ago when priorities have shifted 12 times since then. I help myself to help others by using my calendar.
- Print a copy of your calendar every night. Have you ever shown up for work only to discover there is a 8 am meeting you are late to attend? This happened to me a few times early in my career. I haven’t always had a phone with my calendar, and subsequent reminders, at my finger tips. In fact, I don’t have my work calendar on my phone now. (Insert happy dance!) In order to stay informed and on time, I print my calendar before leaving the office each night. It forces me to review it and keeps me on the good side with the boss.
- Carry a binder with copies of critical items. My team frequently refers to and references figures from our P&L as well as critical financial presentations throughout the month. Carrying copies of these documents assists me with answering questions quickly and accurately. For example, my boss will ask, “What was our service revenue figure for May?” I would flip to a beautifully color tabbed page and answer, “23.8 million.” (Not a real figure.) I am known as being the one with the answers. That is a good reputation to have.
- Keep key documents together. I like to use file folders to consolidate my notes from training sessions, important meetings, and projects. I will pull my notes from my handy notebook discussed in item #1, as well as any handouts or materials provided by other team members. I then add them to labeled file folders. This allows me to keep track of important items that can be found quickly in the future.
A picture of my actual 3-ring binder from item #4 above. It is real! This one I picked up from Target for about $10. It is part of the Nate Burkus Fabric collection.
Here is a shot of my cubical. It isn’t the lovely home office from which I used to work. I traded my wing back chair and yoga pant uniform for a more pay and better job stability at a Fortune 50 company. I think it was well worth it!