The new year is the time we make resolutions about almost every aspect of our lives, including our careers. If you’re ready for a fresh start in 2023, here are some ideas to get your career off to a good start.
Tip one: Get organized.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed on the job, getting more organized may make you feel more in control and make you more effective. A 2021 survey of remote and office workers revealed that full-time employees are wasting 76 hours a year looking for files in their office or on their computer. According to one survey, only 21% would give themselves an “A” for organization and 35% would be ashamed if someone saw their desk. And we suspect that they’re talking about the office desks; people working from home tend to be… let’s call it more relaxed. ag
Email is often a source of stress; it’s easy to accumulate dozens, if not hundreds, of unread emails in your inbox every week. If you haven’t already set up folders to file emails that should be saved (and there are fewer of those than you think), spending an hour on getting organized can save you many hours a week on searching. One quick and easy method is to set up files by project or vendor – that’s how most inquiries will come to you. Don’t make the rookie mistake of organizing by manager or team; you’ll probably have plenty of overlap with people, so you’ll be no better off when you need to find something fast.
Another quick and easy tip for eliminating storage of unnecessary email is to reply to messages that matter. You’ll be automatically storing them in your sent messages folder, so they’ll be retrievable from there if you really need them. The fewer messages you store, the less clutter you’ll have to sort through when you need information.
The paper struggle is real.
Even if your company aims for 100 percent digital, there will be paper to deal with. Many of us printouts to be easier to read during meetings where screens are already in the mix. You may also have to deal with originals of official documents, receipts, and other odds and ends that are hard to hang on to and keep track of.
So it helps to have a system for OG storage as well. Investing in a paper folder system can help you stay organized and look more together at the end of the day. If you’re like me, having beautiful and distinctive folders will make you more likely to use them and easier to identify the files you’re storing. If they’re all brown manila, you’ll spend an extra few seconds each time you search. If they’re each a different color or design, you’ll be able to grab the right folder at a glance.
Folders also allow you to keep your desk neat and presentable at the end of the day. Slipping your paper clutter into folders allows you to clear your desk visually and help you make a clean mental break from your work. In the morning, you’ll come in to a neat desk, which makes mornings easier and allows you to decide what you want to focus on first, rather than diving into the mess. Keeping projects in separate folders also helps you focus on just one project or task at a time, which will make you more efficient and prevent some multi-tasker stress.
Put your calendar to work.
Your calendar is an important tool for tracking meetings, and I’m assuming you have a system for making sure your online and mobile calendars are synced up. (IF not, here are some tips.) If you struggle with time management, consider setting up better notifications for your meetings. The default for Outlook is 15 minutes, but most of us need at least 30 minutes to drive to an in-person meeting. If you’re ignoring your 15-minute advanced notice, you’re missing out on valuable time to get organized before even online meetings. Take the minutes to review your project file or meeting agenda, make sure your video setup is correct, and make some notes for yourself.
You can also use your calendar for reminders and to-dos. They’ll show up either right on time or to remind you to take care of something in a few hours, days, or next week. Sticky notes will never be that versatile (and too many of them just add to your stressful visual clutter and eventually fade into visual background noise.)
Of course, a colorful sticky note, used well, will always be a great way to catch your attention. Putting them on the inside of project folders allows them to do their job in the context of the project when you’re ready to focus.
“Organization isn’t about perfection. It’s about efficiency. Reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life.” – Christina Scalise, Professional Organizer and Author