Whatever industry you want to work in, organisational skills are expected. With them, you are an effective worker. Without them, you stand to look like a bumbling fool who can't complete tasks. Many workers claim to be organised, but can't articulate what skills are needed. Useful skills include prioritising tasks, effectively managing time, creating or following policies and procedures, and keeping documentation.
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Having an in tray is a start, but you need to prioritise and methodically complete work. Know expectations and set realistic guidelines to prioritise tasks. If one expectation is all phone calls are returned within 24 hours, set aside 30 minutes a day for this task. Allow more time or ask for help to deal with an usually high volume of calls. Bill Jensen, who wrote "The Simplicity Survival Handbook," recommends handling corporate communications by skimming contents and looking for two things -- actions and deadlines. If there's no immediate action needed, delete the email or flag the communication for perusal later. This helps prioritise what's important.
Manage your time
There are many distractions in the workplace. Identify those people, tasks or distractions that cause you to "lose" time and find a method to avoid them. If you know that on Monday morning, your co-worker always wants to chat about the weekend, politely tell her that you look forward to catching up during your lunch break or get into your office 30 minutes before she does and close the door. If you have the resources and tools available, you can manage your time well. A computer calendar with alarms will remind you about tasks and appointments. An organised list of important contacts can get you answers quickly. Take seminars or read articles on time management. Delegation, good use of downtime, multi-tasking and speed reading are all effective strategies.
Follow processes and procedures
Systems, processes and procedures help people stay organised. Create a filing system to keep documents and paperwork organised and easy to find. A streamlined and efficient process for managing invoices will promote consistency and accurate work. Follow already established procedures, come up with your own or make suggestions for better ones. How you communicate can follow a process -- every communication, whether written or verbal, should address these words: know, feel and do. What do you want people to know? How do you want them to feel? What do you need them to do?
Being organised also means knowing what you did or did not do, so you can reference information later. Documentation is critical. Imagine receiving a phone call about something that happened three months ago. If you have written documentation, copies of paperwork, recorded messages or pictures, you can recall and track what happened. Documentation may mean logging events, keeping receipts, using spreadsheets and more.
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