Learn how to stay organized at work and the benefits of sorting things out. Also, discover 10 tried-and-true tips to up your organizational skills.
Picture this: You just signed a contract with one client, and another sent you an email with a long project. You know it’s too much work, but you need the money, so you accept both. You now have looming deadlines, and you’re burning the candle on both ends –– everything feels like it's crashing down on you, right?
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed, especially as a freelancer. If you can relate, this one’s for you. In this guide, we’ll explore what it means to be put together, the benefits you can gain from having a strategic approach to work, and tips on how to stay organized at work (like how-to-do lists).
What is organization? 📚
Organization is the skill of arranging the metaphoric puzzle pieces efficiently by systematically structuring your time, tasks, and thoughts in a day. Think of it as the antidote to chaos. Scheduling your day helps you avoid missing tasks or deadlines, and the structure it provides is critical to reducing stress. Being organized enables you to manage professional projects and assignments, and that makes handling all life’s responsibilities much less daunting.
While you might think people are born being naturally organized, it’s actually a soft skill that you can learn with enough time and dedication.
Benefits of being organized 🙂
Besides reducing stress and providing a framework for your day, being organized offers a host of other benefits, such as:
- Reduced chance of burnout: Did you know 48% of people aged 18–29 experienced burnout in 2023? Being disorganized and hurriedly rushing from one task to the next can quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and run down. You can avoid this by knowing exactly how much time you need for tasks and what you need to do.
- Flexible schedule: It’s challenging to know what free time you have when you don’t even know what’s on the agenda for the day. Being organized eliminates time-wasting, which goes a long way in freeing up your time.
- Increased productivity: Streamlining tasks is the name of the game, which helps you get things done more efficiently. With a plan for each day, you can boost your productivity and get more done faster.
- Boosted creativity: Balancing a mental list of things you need to do and experiencing stress is a surefire way to limit creativity. With a clutter-free mind, you’ll have more energy for creative problem-solving.
- Enhanced clarity: A disorganized environment can negatively impact concentration, and constantly keeping mental tabs on what you need to do can result in a cluttered mind. An organized mind and space minimizes distractions, helping you focus on the task at hand.
- Improved well-being: Reduced stress about work means improved sleep, and getting things done ahead of schedule means more time to focus on things you enjoy, all of which contribute to bettering your overall well-being.
Sign up for Contra Pro today
10 tips for staying organized at work 💯
Now that you better understand why you should begin organizing yourself, here are 10 tips for staying organized at work to get more done.
1. Make lists 📝
Most people don’t realize how mentally draining it is to keep mental lists. Free up your concentration by visualizing what you need to do, whether a list, a diagram, or a task scheduler. You can create lists for just about anything, from delegating tasks to clients you need to email to provide updates.
2. Prioritize tasks by importance 🚨
Not everything you do will have the same significance, so rather than wasting time on unimportant, menial tasks, do the critical things first by prioritizing the order of your tasks. You can arrange tasks by length of time, due date, or scope.
3. Use planners 🗓️
Writing down what you have to do helps, but detailing everything in a planner is even better. Not only do planners allow color-coding for prioritizing, but they also have reminders to make any additional notes you may need.
4. Learn about task time ⏰
Most people grossly underestimate how long it will take to complete various tasks. Don’t make the mistake of eyeballing it; pay attention to how long it usually takes to complete specific tasks and write it down. This will come in handy in terms of time management and task prioritization.
5. Delegate tasks 🗣️
Sometimes you won’t have the skills or the time to finish something, and that’s okay. You should always look to assign work to reduce your workload, making it manageable. To do this, you can delegate tasks to people with the right skills and the time.
6. Declutter your workspace 🧹
Funnily enough, a cluttered or messy workspace can reduce your concentration. Take a few minutes out of your day to declutter your workspace. It’s also said that a messy workplace is a physical manifestation of the state of your mind, so if you notice things getting untidy, it’s time to organize and remove the clutter.
7. Break down jobs ⚒️
If you’ve just received a job from a client or have multiple clients and a lot to do, a great approach is to break down each part into several parts. This allows you to schedule those parts into your daily plan and gives you a structured approach to completing everything on time.
8. Limit multitasking ⚖️
While multitasking might seem efficient, it often reduces focus and quality. You might feel like you’re ticking off more tasks, but instead, what you think is multitasking is focusing on one thing at a time and switching that focus constantly. This might eventually reduce your productivity.
9. Use blocks of time 🕛
When planning your day, a simple approach to boost productivity is using blocks of time when allocating tasks. You would lump similar tasks together and set a time limit (block) for each grouping or individual task if it requires its own block. For example, you can group emails and calls into a block.
10. Take breaks 🛌
Organized work is not only just about tasks but also about self-care. Ensure you schedule short breaks to refresh and recharge, which can boost your overall productivity and mood.
Find manageable work with Contra 🖊️
Balancing tasks and staying organized is a continuous journey. While understanding the pros and cons of multitasking is essential, finding the right opportunities that align with your skills is equally crucial.
If you’re an Independent seeking a platform to showcase your expertise, look no further than Contra for Independents. You’ll no longer need to scour job boards while feverishly working to complete assignments and communicating with multiple clients. Once you create your profile, Contra will match you with clients needing your skills commission-free. And if you want to boost your discoverability and connect with more clients, you can upgrade to Contra Pro. Join Contra today.