Money & Career

10 simple ways to get organized at work

By: Louise Andre

©iStockphoto.com/AVAVA Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/AVAVA

Money & Career

10 simple ways to get organized at work

By: Louise Andre
The simple key to dealing with stress in the workplace is to stay organized. Whether you're working on multiple tasks at once, or answering to more than one supervisor, it's important for you to remain calm and chalk out a plan that works in your favour.

We asked Arlene Dickinson of CBC's Dragon's Den and president of CTV News Wendy Freeman to share tips and tricks on how they stay organized, and how you can too.

1. Don't multi-task
Many professionals agree that blocking your time is far more effective than multi-tasking. Studies show that multi-tasking can negatively affect your brain in terms of memory and focus. One of Arlene Dickinson's top tips is to slow down. ''Work on one task, finish that task and then move onto the next one,'' she says.

2. Have a to-do list and follow it
You should keep a daily (and, if possible, weekly and monthly) to-do list. The key is to focus on completing the tasks. Wendy Freeman says, every evening before she leaves the office, she writes down what she needs to do the next day. ''I keep a to-do checklist that I like to tick off at the end of each week, ''Freeman says. ''I challenge myself to always get things done in an organized fashion.''

3. Realize you're not the same as your co-worker
Dickinson believes the more you try and understand what works best for you, the happier and more productive you'll be. ''Don't beat yourself up by comparing how you organize your day at work compared to how others organize themselves,'' she says. Everyone is wired differently and how you stay on top of your responsibilities at work will not always be the same as the person sitting next to you.

4. Don't procrastinate
Procrastination will do nothing other than increase your stress levels and workload later. Do bothersome things first to get them out of the way. ''I always try to get it done as quickly as possible because I get a lot of satisfaction out of checking items off my to-do list,'' Freeman explains. So go ahead, and create your own to-do list.5. Don't sweat the small stuff
Remember that life is 10 per cent what happens and 90 per cent how you deal with it. If you focus on small mistakes at work, you might miss out on the necessary tasks you need to do. Dickinson suggests focusing on tasks that are important. ''Make sure you are spending time on items that are truly helping you accomplish your goals instead of items that are ultimately doing nothing to add value,'' she says.

6. Delegate some of your work to others
Sometimes it's impossible to complete all your tasks on your own. Freeman says delegating work to your co-workers can help you from feeling bogged down. ''Not keeping all the work to one's self is key,'' she says. ''Sharing work among your team and staff allows them to feel ownership while allowing the leader to stay organized and do the work that cannot be shared.''

7. Take breaks
The important thing about stress is being aware of how you deal with it. If you're feeling strained, it's OK to take a break. Dickinson admits she'll sometimes cut back on her schedule for a few days to regroup and focus on herself. ''Work stress is relative,'' she says. ''Working out physically helps you to be able to manage work stress and, for that matter, personal stress as well."

8. Turn off your smartphone
In the age of technology, this one may be hard; but put down the smartphone and walk away. Not only will it allow you to have time for yourself, but it will also allow you to focus better on your work. Freeman says she has learned that ''unplugging is allowed,'' in exchange for doing something she enjoys.

9. Find a system that works best for you
There is no ''best way'' to stay organized, but Dickinson says the secret to organization is to finding a system that works best for you. ''Some like a clean desk. Others don't mind the mess. The only question is: Are you delivering what is needed on time and in an excellent manner?'' she says.

10. Use files to stay organized
Some sort of filing system is important (whether it be paper or electronic) because it'll save you later on from rummaging through piles of paper or unorganized files on your computer. ''I keep everything in a file and know where it is so I can grab it and look at it at any time,'' Freeman explains, adding that this is her personal system of staying organized with all the information that comes her way.

Arlene Dickinson is a best-selling author, CEO of Venture Communications and star of the hit CBC show ''Dragon's Den.'' Wendy Freeman is president of CTV News and, in 2012, was awarded the Sun Life Financial Arts & Communications Award for one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. 
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10 simple ways to get organized at work

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