Top Organizational Skills: Examples and How To Develop Them
Updated June 16, 2022
Published December 12, 2019
Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.
Companies often search for quality employees who possess strong organizational skills which tend to be most effective when rooted in your daily routine. You can build these skills using practice and self-discipline. Once you develop organizational skills, you can begin using them regularly to form a permanent habit and achieve greater success at work.
In this article, we define and provide examples of essential organizational skills. We also discuss how to highlight and communicate your organizational skills to employers, both in your resume and in interviews. Plus, we’ll show you how to develop and use organizational skills to help increase your productivity in the workplace long-term.
What are organizational skills?
Organizational skills are competencies you can use to establish structure and order in your daily life. They can help you work more efficiently and effectively and, as a result, increase your productivity and performance. When an employee displays strong organizational skills in the workplace, it typically means they also have a strong aptitude for time management, goal setting and understanding how to meet their objectives.
Related: How To Set and Achieve Goals
Why are organizational skills important?
People with strong organizational skills are essential to help a business function successfully by ensuring operational efficiency. These skills are needed in the workplace to increase productivity and ensure company goals are consistently met.
Organizational skills are also foundational in that they often support the growth and development of other proficiencies such as critical thinking and communication. People with sharp organizational skills may also receive promotional opportunities, leadership roles or higher-level responsibilities.
Examples of organizational skills
While there is a broad range of organizational skills, most fall into one of two categories—physical or reasoning. It’s a good idea to use both reasoning and physical organizational skills in conjunction since they’re both integral to achieving goals.
Physical organizational skills
Physical organizational skills generally pertain to keeping a tidy workspace (physical and virtual) and orderly work habits. For instance, if you attend a project planning meeting, you could demonstrate organizational skills by taking clear notes during the meeting, saving them in a designated place where you can easily refer back to them and making appropriate updates to a corresponding project timeline. Some examples of physical organizational skills in the workplace include:
Documenting meetings, as described in the example above, is important. You might also document the progress of a project, new ideas when they come to you, personal and professional goals or your to-do list. Documenting valuable information like this, whether it be in writing, photos or voice or video recordings can help you meet deadlines and solve future problems.
You could primarily deal with digital files, emails or paper documents. Regardless, having designated folders or drives where you save important information can help you move quickly and be more proactive at work. For example, if your manager were to ask about the status of a project you’re working on, you could quickly locate documents and timelines to give them an accurate update.
Recording business transactions or events in a systematic way is also a crucial skill, especially when working with clients, vendors or direct reports. This can help you and other collaborators set clear expectations, track accountability and plan for the future.
Decluttering your physical and virtual space can often help you declutter your thoughts as well. When you have an organized state of mind, you typically have more clarity to analyze problems and make decisions.
Reasoning organizational skills
Organizational skills related to reasoning and critical thinking can help you solve problems, plan projects, collaborate better and much more. These skills are attractive to employers because they demonstrate your dynamic qualities as an employee. Examples of organizational skills that involve reasoning include:
Your ability to conduct research, sort data, swiftly process findings and come to a sound conclusion requires strong organizational skills.
It also takes organizational skills to work harmoniously with others on your team when you may have to schedule and run meetings, assign or take on new responsibilities, set expectations or track deliverables.
Organized communication is necessary to work effectively with colleagues whether they are direct reports, managers or clients. Communicating ideas thoughtfully and coherently can ensure they are well-received and help you avoid inefficiencies like misinterpretation.
Another organizational skill is deciding what actually needs to be done, when it needs to be done, then planning that process. This involves understanding deadlines and working backward to map out prioritize each task along the way.
You can also hone the skill of deciding who is the best person to do each task, communicating the assignment to them and helping them track their progress. Delegation is an important organizational skill that allows us to achieve more in less time.
Another part of organizational skills is understanding how to scope the amount of time a certain task should take. This allows you to plan your daily schedule and use your time efficiently. It also supports a better work-life balance. Below are more examples of organizational skills that employers value and that could also help you succeed at work. It can be easier to develop these skills once you start building a strong organizational routine:
Leading or managing teams
How to communicate organizational skills to employers
During the hiring process, employers will observe your reasoning and physical organizational skills to evaluate the level of your proficiency. It’s important to convey both types of this skill so interviewers and hiring managers can understand your full potential.
Demonstrate organizational skills in your resume
The visual appeal of your resume demonstrates your physical organizational skills. Your resume should be free of errors and formatting inconsistencies, as recruiters might interpret these as a lack of attention to detail. Also, using a simple design that’s easy to read and presents the content in a logical order shows that you have the skills to organize information.
You should also describe the right organizational skills in the summary, skills and experience description sections on your resume. Match keywords from the job description and use strong action verbs to express that you have the necessary reasoning skills to succeed in the role. For example, you might write about how you, “led a project to success by managing stakeholders, delegating tasks and carefully tracking progress.”
Discuss your organizational skills during an interview
Show your physical organizational skills during an interview by arriving early, dressing neatly, taking notes and asking thoughtful questions.
This also comes into play when you give your answers. When preparing for an interview, organize your talking points using the STAR technique so interviewers can understand your answers and get an idea of how you communicate ideas.
Display your organizational skills that involve reasoning when describing what you actually did and how you accomplished your goals. For instance, did you create or implement a new process that helped your team exceed metrics? Did you take the lead on a project or organize an event that increased brand awareness for your company?
How to develop and use strong organizational skills
To create a habit of strong organizational skills, it’s often essential to develop them and gradually apply them to your workday routine over time. Once this is done, you may notice an increase in efficiency throughout your projects and routine that you can eventually scale. Here are a few ways to develop organizational skills that you can use regularly at work.
1. Create a clean workspace
It’s often easiest to enhance organizational skills once you declutter and clean your desk and work area. Assess what’s in and around your workspace and get rid of any objects or documents that you deem unnecessary to complete your daily responsibilities. With fewer distractions around you, you might find that it’s easier to focus on the task at hand.
2. Identify goals to meet
As you develop an organizational plan, you may first want to set career goals you’d like to meet. You can do this by brainstorming a list of projects or tasks you’d like to complete. These can be items previously assigned by a supervisor or they can be self-improvement goals you set for yourself. An example may be creating a better departmental training process for new employees.
List these goals and note how long each of them may take to accomplish. Some of these goals may take months to achieve while others might involve smaller tasks that could be completed in a shorter period.
Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career
3. Build a to-do list
Once you establish a goal, build a to-do list to establish the necessary steps to achieve it. Try starting with a larger project or goal. Evaluate how long it might take to estimate a final deadline, break it up into smaller tasks and write them down in a list. You might also assign due dates to your tasks to help you stay on track. This can help you complete larger projects without feeling overwhelmed.
Once you’ve added tasks to your list, you’ll have a clearer course mapped out to reach your goal. Consider using free online list-making tools, such as Google Keep, Trello or Google Sheets.
4. Prioritize each task
You can now take this to-do list and begin organizing it based on priority. Place the most important tasks with upcoming deadlines at the top of the list. These are the tasks you should complete before the others. Prioritizing tasks ensures that you get things done in the right order that achieves maximum efficiency. If you notice an abundance of tasks or that some fall outside of your core responsibilities, determine if you can delegate any to other team members.
Read more: How To Prioritize Tasks in the Workplace
5. Input tasks into a schedule
Once you’ve established the tasks to be completed, you can schedule when you’ll work on them. Decide how long each task may take and build a schedule accordingly. For example, depending on how long it takes to finish each item, you might build your schedule based on specific time increments. If your day is filled with more time-consuming tasks, you can create a schedule in hour-long increments. A portion of this schedule may look like this:
7 a.m.: Wake up, shower, cook breakfast, drive to the office
8 a.m.: Sort through and reply to emails
9 a.m.: Manager’s meeting
10 a.m.: Build budget report
Try to find time for regular breaks to let your brain rest and refresh. This may help you better focus on completing a task once your break is over. Leaving a few open spaces in your schedule may also prepare you for any unexpected assignments that may occur throughout the workweek.
6. Organize your materials
To increase productivity and remain organized, store documents in files that are clearly labeled and easy to find. Designate folders on your computer to store important resources and documents. Sort through each of your existing files and move documents to their respective folders. Since the goal is to establish a system where documents are quick and easy to retrieve, avoid creating too many folders. Instead create folders based on broad categories like “team meetings,” “quarterly reports” or “training documents,” and add subfolders within those categories if necessary.
can apply the same system to your email as well. If you receive a significant amount of emails every day, sort through them regularly and create folders for different subject matters that the emails address. This can make it easier to refer to a past email that contains important information.
7. Reward yourself regularly
To encourage consistent organizational skills, build a reward system for yourself. For example, if you complete every scheduled task on time that day, treat yourself to something that you enjoy. When you acknowledge your achievements, even in small ways, it can help you build motivation to complete each project. This can build a productive work cycle for yourself and can encourage you to remain organized.
8. Maintain a healthy work-life balance
Successfully balancing your personal and work life can help you remain organized and consistent. Generally, your brain can process information better when you give it some rest and allow yourself to also focus on non-work-related activities. For instance, you might pick two or three days throughout the week to work on hobbies, spend time with friends or exercise. Once you return to work after resting your mind, you may find that you feel better prepared to be productive and organized throughout your day as you work toward your goals.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Work-Life Balance
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