Hi. My name’s Drew, and I have an organizational problem.
No, not a lack of organization — an actual obsession.
From containers, and digital and physical planners to spreadsheets and everything in between, I love organization!
My obsession comes in handy at work, especially when things get a bit chaotic. And, honestly, is work ever not a little bit chaotic?
I pride myself on my ability to be organized, so I wanted to share with you my top three tips for getting organized at work.
Let’s jump in!
Tip #1: Use a planner
Maybe for you, this means utilizing Google Calendar, or maybe it means creating your own sort of planner in your work notebook. For me, it means utilizing my Passion Planners.
Don’t worry, you don’t need an eye exam, I really did use a plural.
Yes, I use multiple planners to organize both my professional and personal life.
I told you I have an obsession … !
My Work Passion Planner
I have one of the new Passion Planner Dailies (PPDs) that I’ve been utilizing at work for a little while now. It works great as a to-do list as well as a place to sort of “brain dump” my thoughts and random reminders throughout the day. It also provides a space for me to jot down my mood, summarize the day in one word, and note how I took care of myself.
As you can see in the picture of a recent Monday in my PPD, the left side is preplanned with fields for things like “today’s focus,” personal and work reminders, “best thing that happened,” “one thing I learned,” and so much more. These are things I fill out throughout the day as they happen. Then at the end of the day, I fill in the “Best Things That Happened,” “Today in One Word,” and “Mood Tracker.”
Next to these fields is a page-long timeline. This is where I track everything from the time I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I block out time for each work task I have for the day as well as any after-work activities.
When I block out time like this, I find I stick to it better than when I don’t block out time. If I have an hour blocked out to work on a client’s paid campaign optimizations, I spend an hour on that. If I have 30 minutes blocked out for lunch, I use that time to take my lunch break.
Bonus tip: Schedule. Your. Breaks. It’s amazing to me how taking breaks positively impacts my productivity and quality of work, but if I don’t schedule myself time to take a break, I won’t take it! You can even ask my current and previous bosses for confirmation of this.
My Personal Passion Planner
I also have one of the original Passion Planners, which is a weekly layout that I use mainly for personal life. I tend to block out the time that I’m on the clock — which sometimes feels like a waste of space, if I’m being honest — but it helps me understand how much personal time I truly have. Having clarity on that allows me to prioritize side projects, time spent with friends and family, and whatever else I want to fill my time with.
My personal planner helps me stay on track at work because I have a clear picture of my whole week — if I have plans right after work, appointments that may affect my working hours, etc. — and I can prioritize my time and focus accordingly.
Tip #2: Use Google Calendar
I know I just said that I schedule all of my time in my physical Passion Planners, but I also schedule my time on my Google Calendar. Most workplaces, Webfor included, utilize Google Calendar or another shared calendar platform to schedule meetings and team outings. Since all of my coworkers are able to see my work calendar, I schedule all of my time there as well.
The digital version allows my coworkers to know what tasks I have scheduled for the day, when I might be hyper-focused on a more detail-oriented task, and the best time to schedule a meeting with me. It also allows the Webfor account managers to know when I’m working on their clients’ accounts.
I also mark any time I’m unavailable as “Out of the Office” so my coworkers know I’m not available — because I’m at a doctor’s appointment or because I started date night with my wife a little earlier than usual because I also started work that morning a little earlier than usual.
Beyond giving my coworkers insight into my day, the digital copy of my planner allows for more flexibility. Sometimes I have an hour blocked out for a task that actually only takes 30 minutes. In that case, I’m able to shorten the original task, move up the other tasks for the day, and fill in that extra 30 minutes with another task. Once something is blocked out in my physical planner in pen, I can’t really move it around. It’s always interesting for me to compare my physical and digital planners to see how I overestimated or underestimated the time tasks would take and how flexible I had to be on certain days.
Tip #3: Plan your month (and leave yourself some wiggle room!).
At Webfor, our hours for each client reset at the beginning of each month. That means on the first of every month I know where about 90% of my hours will be spent. From pre-scheduled meetings, such as our monthly company meetings, to my monthly paid optimization tasks for clients, I go through and plan out how I will spend my time over the next month.
On the first day of each month, I have a list of all of my clients, scheduled meetings, travel time to and from meetings — everything you can think of! — with a time allocation next to it. I then go through one by one and schedule time throughout the month to ensure I spend the right time on each task.
For example, if a client gets four paid optimization hours a month, I typically schedule two hours during the first two weeks of the month, and the final two hours the last two weeks of the month. Even if these two hours end up being completed on a different day, it serves as a reminder that I need to spend those two hours on that client’s campaign.
I also schedule my 30-minute morning prep times and 30-minute lunches. Like I mentioned earlier, this helps remind me to take my breaks and helps me allocate my time accordingly.
Beyond all that, I schedule some “wiggle room” for the end of the month. Maybe it’s a couple of hours a day the last week of the month. Maybe it’s the last two working days of the month. Either way, I make sure I have some open time at the end of each month to allow for flexibility. Sometimes that manifests itself as a new client coming onboard, causing me to move some of my tasks around. Other times, my coworkers take on a big project and need some help staying on top of their tasks.
This wiggle room has become incredibly important for me and my productivity. It’s a way to keep me focused on the task at hand when new tasks come up since it is so easy to jump on the next new task despite the previous task not being completed yet. Whether I end up accidentally doing that, or if I just utilize my open time for the new task, I’m almost always covered and able to finish out my hours within the month.
That’s it … for now!
I hope you found those three tips to help you stay organized at work helpful! If not, now you know I have a true obsession with planning and organization.
Leave a comment or share this post on social media to let me know if you like these kinds of tips. Maybe you’ll see similar types of posts in the future!