How To Organize Your Day at Work: 15 Tips for Success

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 15, 2021

Staying organized at work can help increase productivity and reduce stress by making it easier to know what to expect at work. At its core, organization is a series of habits that requires continual development. In this article, we explain strategies to help you reduce distractions and approach challenges with positivity to organize your workday.

Related: How to Organize Your Day to Maximize Success

15 tips for how to organize your day at work

Organization can help you maximize your time at work, handle challenges better and increase your motivation. Here are 15 tips to help you organize your workday:

1. Keep a to-do list

Taking five to 10 minutes at the beginning of each day to write out a to-do list, on paper or digitally, can help promote focus and foster productivity. Adding to the initial to-do list throughout the day can help you keep a clear idea of your goals.

Some people may find that a short to-do list of larger tasks is overwhelming, breaking big tasks down into smaller portions is a strategy that can often help address the procrastination that comes from feeling overwhelmed.

2. Keep a tidy workspace

Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clean your desk, removing anything that you won't absolutely need. Get rid of any trash and place pens in a drawer or organizer and stack papers so they look tidier. You can even fill up your water bottle so you don't have to worry about it in the morning.

This goes for digital clutter as well. Computers tend to start up slower when there are lots of files and programs on the desktop, so taking a little time each week to clear your computer of any unneeded files and download any updates may prevent crashes and computer lag. It can also help you find the programs and files you need more readily.

When you come in the next day, you'll be able to get to work immediately, rather than spending the first few minutes of the day cleaning up after yourself.

Related: How To Organize Your Desk, Office or Cubicle at Work

3. Find a schedule and stay with it

Some people work best when they wake up early, while others find success working at night. Determine the time of day when you feel you're at your best and try to get most of your work done during those hours.

Just as important as choosing a schedule is making sure you can commit to it. Consistency is key in creating new habits that last. Staying consistent with your schedule can also help you be more productive. Having a set of hours when you know you're going to be working can train your brain to be active during those hours.

Related: How Do I Create and Stick To A Daily Schedule?

4. Take breaks

Taking 10-15 minutes every couple of hours to stretch your body and focus on something other than work can help keep you energized and excited about your job. Find a way to eat meals somewhere other than your desk to give yourself a mental break from work when possible.

Another reason to take frequent downtime is that you will often face unexpected tasks during the workday. Giving yourself small, scheduled breaks throughout the day will give you time to meet these challenges without feeling overwhelmed.

5. Reduce multitasking

Multitasking may sound like the perfect way to get many things done at once, but unfortunately, this not true in many situations. You may even find that multitasking can actually take longer than completing tasks individually. Some multitasking is an inevitable part of daily work, but the good news is you can avoid having to multitask more than is necessary by staying organized.

6. Identify distractions

Another helpful strategy for organizing your workday is addressing and minimizing distractions. Emails, texts and phone calls are a few common reasons behind distraction. Fortunately, there are things you can do to address these distractions.

Schedule specific times to take care of emails, for example, to stay on task and not get distracted by every new message in your inbox. You might choose to put a distracting cellphone in airplane mode or place it in a drawer to reduce the possibility of getting sidetracked by a personal text. While you can't always schedule incoming phone calls for your job, you may find success with scheduling a block of time to make any outgoing calls.

These strategies can help reduce the number of distractions you experience and the time a distraction takes away from your current task.

7. Automate your job where you can

Perhaps you send similar versions of the same email to multiple people, or you're often distracted by someone who needs your signature. With the help of technology, you can automate tasks like these to maximize your time and decrease distractions.

Keep templates for frequently sent emails, so you just have to customize where necessary and send. You can also use software that digitizes signatures to sign documents with a click. Automating tasks will help you stay focused and organized.

8. Tackle tasks in order of importance

Instead of starting your day with smaller tasks like answering emails, begin by addressing your largest or most stress-inducing task. This might take the largest amount of time in your day, but it ultimately will help your workflows move faster. Completing the largest jobs first can keep you motivated to finish the smaller tasks on your to-do list quickly without using up all your energy.

9. Organize your workday by time

This is an especially helpful tactic if there are several meetings interspersed throughout your workday. Scheduling your tasks by the hour can help your day feel more predictable. It can also improve your productivity by serving as a reminder of your current task whenever you get distracted.

10. Set goals and reward yourself

Setting goals can help you become better at your job through motivation. You can set goals for staying organized, like challenging yourself to make a to-do list every day. Or, you can set professional goals that can help you stay engaged at your job.

Setting goals serves as an opportunity to reward yourself whenever you meet them. These rewards need not be elaborate. They could be as simple as deciding to eat a snack once you finish a large task. The point of setting and acknowledging goals is to help you stay focused on tasks and interested in your work, so any reward that motivates you is a good one.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

11. Schedule your days in "batches" of work

Some people find success with organizing not just their workday, but their workweek. If your job is a mix of phone calls and administrative work, for instance, perhaps you could attend to phone calls Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and spend Tuesdays and Thursdays on administrative tasks.

This can help you maximize productivity and concentrate on tasks without feeling like you need to switch tasks at a moment's notice. This strategy works best for detail-oriented people who don't mind doing the same type of work for several hours on end.

Read more: 6 Ways To Optimize Your Daily Schedule

12. Identify stressors

Many people's tendency to procrastinate stems from stressors such as self-doubt, perfectionism or fear of criticism. Maybe you're worried about negative feedback on that recurring task, or you're concerned you won't be able to make that big deadline. Identifying what's stressing you out can help you find solutions to reduce this stress and make the harder tasks easier to complete.

A solution to job stress could be talking to your boss or team to identify ways to improve your job performance and satisfaction. When you identify stressors at work, you're able to find ways to overcome them and organize your day without a sense of dread or procrastination.

13. Make a weekly/monthly plan

A daily to-do list can work wonders for completing day-to-day tasks, but it can also be helpful to make a larger list at the beginning of each week or month to structure your time to meet your goals.

For example, for a deadline at the end of a month, you could set goals to complete by the end of each week to have everything done by the time the deadline comes. You could break down the goals even further by setting targets to meet each day. This strategy follows the philosophy of splitting one large task into several small ones, which can help your long-term goals feel more obtainable.

14. Use your current workflows to promote organization

Your workplace may already have workflows or tools in place to help you stay organized at work. Many email applications include a calendar component you can use to schedule your time. Some chat applications have built-in reminder features that can keep you on task. You can ask coworkers or managers how they organize their work and incorporate their advice into your own organizational habits.

Related: How To Organize Your Gmail Inbox

15. Introduce balance to your schedule

One key to staying organized long term is trying to achieve balance. Many people who attempt to implement organizational habits into their professional lives experience burnout when they sacrifice their work-life balance for short-term productivity. A lack of balance can cause you to forget or neglect your organizational habits. The good news is you can always use any of these strategies to renew your organizational skills at work.

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