One of the most important skills a manager can possess is the ability to be organised. Not only does your work require structured thinking, discipline and action, it also requires the ability to juggle a multitude of jobs at any one time – all with their own complexities and client expectations. Now add transformation into the mix; actions to undertake; deadlines to meet; changes to implement etc and then there is all the normal day to day administrative work to do – performance reviews; management reporting; marketing the business; coaching the team – the list goes on….
So how do you get through all this without working 24 hours a day? Yes, you could employ more resources or you could get back to basics and employ simple and effective organisational skills to help you work more efficiently. Being organised is not just about getting a lot of work done; it is also about creating a work environment that is conducive to clear thinking. It is an environment that says to a client “We are efficient, we know what we are doing and you can have complete confidence in us to do a great job”. To achieve this and enjoy control over your workspace, here are a number of tips to improve your organisational skills:
- Use a notebook or diary to track important notes and record action items. Your memory may be excellent, but there it is no substitute to writing actions down.
- Use checklists. Yes – not only will your new checklists be essential in creating consistent quality in your business, they will help you be more organised.
- Do one thing at a time. Multitasking is a great skill, but don’t multitask when working on client jobs. Adopt the mantra “One thing at a time”.
- Plan in advance. This is about preventative maintenance and planning, NOT reacting. Plan out your week and your day to use your time most effectively.
- Use folders and colour coding. As simple as this seems, putting things in folders (and labelling them) is an excellent way to be organised. Plus, having a tidy work area will give you a sense of control.
- Avoid cutting yourself short. We have all fallen into the trap of not allowing ourselves sufficient time to get a task complete. By being organised, you will have a clear picture of your priorities and be able to make promises you can keep.
- Use “To Do” lists. Simple, easy and inexpensive. Update your list every night before going home and revisit it every morning. Create a list for your week and refine it as the week progresses.
- Co-ordinate with others. You don’t work in a vacuum so co-ordinate efforts with your team members, especially if you need their assistance to complete a job. Your last minute rush is not their problem.
- Learn the most important word “No”. Being organised means having to occasionally say “no” to new work. Practise as this is a hard lesson to implement.
- Get the lay of the land. If you are new to the business, check out where essentials items are kept, who looks after stationery, computers, printers, photocopiers etc. Knowing where things are kept will save you time trying to sort this out later.
- Keep a tidy desk. This has to be one of the most difficult organisational techniques for a manager to implement. A tidy desk does contribute to clearer thinking, helps you avoid distractions, and reduces the chance of client work being misfiled.
Investing five minutes in improving organisational skills today will pay great dividends and save you hours tomorrow!