How To Get Organized At Work
Not so much about organizing desk drawers, but — how to do stuff that’s productive.
I’ve probably worked with 1,500 different people in various jobs I’ve had. I could count maybe 4 that ever spent a second thinking about how to get organized at work.
The common way most people approach the concept of ‘how to get organized at work’ is to hit the office around 9am — OK, 9:17am — after checking/responding to a few e-mails from home before that. Typically the first few elements of a workday for a person tend to be:
- Getting settled
- Gossip and small talk with co-workers
- Checking e-mail
- Diving into meetings
Of course, this varies by person — but again, out of those 1,500, this is over 70 percent of what I’ve seen. But is this really the best way?
How To Get Organized At Work, Part 1: The First Morning Steps
I only start writing this post because I just came across a post on Fast Company entitled ‘The First Four Things You Should Do Every Workday,’ which is conservatively probably the 77,937th article ever written with that title. (“I know, let’s blog about productivity!” — some middle manager everywhere).
Here are their four suggestions:
- Eat your frogs first (I’ve also written about this)
- Scan for red flags (basically, look for the fire drills soon to emerge)
- Rally a to-do list (this actually holds a lot of people back)
- Check in with your team (important if done right)
That’s an OK list — but not a great one. It whiffs on basic human psychology about work.
Here’s the problem most of these articles gloss over: very few people — probably less than 10 percent — actually try to think critically about questions like:
- What is work?
- Why am I here?
- What are my priorities?
- What is this organization trying to accomplish and how do I fit in?