We have all experienced that momentary panic when we can’t find our glasses, our keys, or our cellphones. It’s usually when we’re in a hurry, like when someone is honking in the driveway, or you are running late for an appointment. When the pressure’s on in some way, your heart rate increases, your cortisol and adrenaline surge, your palms get sweaty and you feel, just for a second, like you might explode. You have a physiological reaction that you just can’t control when you’re under stress.
What about at work? How do you keep it together when you don’t feel organized?
When you are going to miss a deadline because you are a procrastinator, you aren’t organized, your computer crashes with that presentation you need to print locked inside, or your desk is cluttered with a million post-it notes that weren’t well written so you have to spend extra time deciphering them, what happens? You have that same physiological reaction to stress and it takes you a little while to cool down and get back to business.
Impact of Organization on Productivity
Experts say that if you are disorganized, you lose over ten hours of productivity a week. Ten hours out of your pocket or your company’s pocket adds up to real loss. Based on those figures, if someone has a salary of $75,000, the potential loss to the company is nearly $19,000. Can your company afford that? What if everyone in your office is disorganized? The bottom line can take a huge hit and your overall effectiveness as an organization can be in question.
What gets you off track?
- Constant interruptions
- Cluttered desktops
How do you get back on track?
- Meetings – You may not be able to opt out of meetings, but you can and should do your part to keep meetings on track and discuss only what is relevant to the whole group. You should also consider more efficient ways to share information. Sitting in a meeting while others discuss things that are not relevant to you, kicks off that physiological reaction we mentioned. If you are short on time to start with, adding a meeting to your day only eats into productivity.
- Constant interruptions – when you turn your attention away from your work to put out fires, or chinwag with co-workers, answer phone calls, etc., you have to refocus your attention back to what you were doing before. Close your door and tell your co-workers or staff that you need uninterrupted time to organize or finish work. That should be an option for all employees that need to stay organized. Be respectful of others' “catch-up” time and be sure to take your own.
- E-mail – Many people read and respond to e-mails all day throughout the day. While that gives you a temporary sense of accomplishment and senders appreciate your quick responses, you are really doing yourself a disservice by interrupting your own workflow. You’ve heard the old adage that less is more. With e-mails, this is so true. Let your email flow into one folder rather than many sub-folders. Set aside certain times of the day to work through your e-mails. Don’t get lost in chaos. Delete what you don’t have to keep and de-clutter your e-mail folders so the overwhelming numbers don’t stress you out.
- Cluttered desktops – Clearing off your desktop is like clearing your mind of clutter. It creates focus, eliminates distraction, and lowers stress. It would be nice to take one broad sweep and put everything in the trash but that’s not logical or even smart. It will take some time…some of that critical lost time we’ve been talking about…but once you’ve done it, you’ll be in great shape, if only for a little while. Create your vision and make it happen. Get rid of the sicky notes first. If necessary, type your messages into one document in your computer that you can save and work on it later. Then…throw the notes away. Make yourself an inbox, an outbox and a “to be filed” box and sort your papers into those boxes. Instead of stacks of paper, create folders and label them. Put them in a drawer or stand so you can see what’s there at a glance. If you have a drawer, put them in it. It will give you the feeling of cleanliness and order that you need to de-stress. Get yourself a pencil, pen, supply organizer and put that in a drawer as well so your desk is as neat and clear as possible. It’s easy to mess it all up again in a day so “Get It Together” and keep it that way.
You spend a lot of time at work and it can be mentally exhausting and stressful if you aren’t organized, you have clutter or have many interruptions throughout your day. Take control. Make it your goal to reduce stress and stay organized. While you’re at it, remember to respect everyone else’s time too.