FROM THE DESK: How to Organize For Success

September 1, 2015

Nothing makes me happier than a clean, organized and personalized work space. I loved the first days of class when you got to break in a new notebook or planner. The smell of fresh paper!

Lilly Pulitzer


But since college days are over – there’s nothing wrong with using Sept. 1 to hit a reset button and organize and spruce your space for a new month. Recently a co-worker came over to my desk and said “You’re workspace is so happy!” I replied, “obviously!” You spend 50 – 60 hours a week at that workspace, on top of all the other “emojis” you work through in a given day you may as well try to avoid “depressed” over white walls and Dell computers.

While my “pop of pink” desk may be a happy place, its carefully organized nature is what keeps me truly successful. I’m knee deep in notebooks and planners – keeping it truly old school when it comes to my “to-do” lists and notes.

It’s funny how finding that carefully curated process is part of maturing in your career. From “to-dos” to mind maps down to how you file e-mails once you hone in on what works for you – you’re set. Part of the learning how to be successful in any industry, not necessarily just PR is finding the balance of between what works for you as a person and what works for your team and client. Recently I was given some advice wrapped up with a bow of confidence. My manager said –  “So you have spent time learning from other’s, now it’s time to get a process down that works for you.”

So in the spirit of what may be a slower week for some – now’s the time. Have you ever really examined how you work? How you file e-mails, where’s your to-do list, what’s your morning routine, what are your day-end rituals? Did you ever then consider what that does to your productivity? A true diagnosis of working “smarter v. harder?”

Well to make this productive and not overwhelm ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Do I get satisfaction of crossing things off or digitally deleting?
  2. Would I rather stay late or get in early?
  3. Can I jump right in or do I need a few when I get to the office?
  4. What motivates me pre-task and post-task?
  5. Where do I like to end my day?

I answered these questions and created a mini productivity profile for myself. I’m not a morning person – but I’d rather jump right in to the bigger stuff when the day starts and I like things tied up in a bow as best I can at the end of the day. I can’t live without a written to do list and writing thought starters down pre-task keeps my creative energy going post-task. Soo I’ll…

  1. Write out my to-do list. (cross, check, cross, ah satisfaction!)
  2. Get in early and respect my time to have a life post-6PM (Yes there’s exceptions to this rule).
  3. Complete 10 mini-tasks before jumping into something bigger I’ll get satisfaction from crossing things off the list while also getting more menial tasks off my plate.
  4. Keep detailed thought starter notes – no awkward speech bubbles in the margins, really hone in on complete and creative thoughts.
  5. Make 5 by 5. Things that I would normally save till the end of the day – I’ll finish an hour before saving time for last minute requests.

The key to working smarter v. harder is making sure that you are aware of what works for you and the actions needed to make each process a success. Now if you’ll excuse me that to-do list needs a few check marks!