5 Ways to Organize Your Professional Life

January 19, 2016

5:00 pm

We’re well into the new year and hopefully you’re making progress on your goals for 2016. One way to set yourself up for continued success, especially for those professional goals, is to keep your work life as organized as possible.

A completely organized professional existence might seem like a never-ending uphill battle, but like every other challenge in life, it tends to be made easier when you break it down into small manageable segments. Don’t try to do everything at once. Tackle one area at a time.

Whether you go to an office every day or work from home, these tips can help you make the most of your work days so you’re not spending unnecessary hours in front of your computer making up for wasted time.

1. Keep the Essentials (and Only the Essentials) Nearby

What you consider essential may vary, but here are just a few things that are good to have either at your office, or right in the immediate vicinity of your home office. If you tend to move around a lot, working from coffee shops, park benches, or your car, these items are very easy to keep in your tote or backpack.

  1. A sweater, hoodie, or some kind of outer layer for unanticipated temperature changes.
  2. Deodorant, because you never know when you’re going to need it.
  3. A few snacks so you don’t have to go in search of sustenance when you’re really busy
  4. Headphones for when you have a call or encounter unexpected noise pollution.
  5. Phone/computer chargers, for obvious reasons.

2. Declutter Your Desktop

By this I mean your computer desktop. File away all important documents, photos, and files into their appropriate homes. Delete anything you downloaded by mistake or are never going to use again. This will make it easy to search for things when you need them, and will also give you back some much needed storage space. Remember, the cloud is your friend.

3. Treat Your Email Box Like a Real Mailbox

Do you let your paper mail pile up into a potential fire hazard before dealing with it? Well if you do, shame on you. If you don’t, why do you let that happen to your email inbox, thereby creating unnecessary anxiety and distraction? Sometimes this is easier said than done, but try to deal with email as soon as you see it. Delete the junk and file the important ones away into folders.

4. Get Your LinkedIn Game in Order

You may not see this as an organizational goal, but LinkedIn is the most efficient way to build your professional network, so it helps to have a schedule for updating and maintaining it. Set some time aside each week to reach out to contacts you haven’t talked to in a while. Keep some kind of regular posting schedule to remind people that you’re alive and kicking ass.

5. Rethink Your To-Do List

This doesn’t necessarily mean rethink the items on your to-do list, although that probably wouldn’t hurt either, but rather rethink how you organize your tasks. Do things fall through the cracks? Do you have trouble prioritizing? Do you often find yourself pushing tasks back all week and then working over the weekend to get done the things you were supposed to have done by EOD Friday? Try a new technique, like the 1-3-5 Rule (1 big thing, 3 medium things, 5 small things) to help you get those items checked off.

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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