Like many people, you are wondering how to get organized at work, become more successful and achieve your career goals.
In this article, you will discover 13 scientifically proven tips to become more organized and successful at work.
For each piece of advice, you will find the corresponding scientific reference and how to put into practice what you have just learned to make you feel more comfortable in your work.
Here are briefly our 13 tips.
How to become organized at work?
1. Plan your week and day in advance
2. Set goals that allow you to evolve professionally
3. Evaluate yourself in a positive manner
4. Increase your influence in your professional network
5. Get enough sleep
6. Develop your creativity
7. Use multitasking strategically
8. Evaluate accurately the time required to complete each task
9. Reinforce your professional awareness
10. Use implementation intentions
11. Take care of your workspace
12. Develop your emotional intelligence
13. Increase your self-efficacy
Discover in more detail these 13 tips based on the results of published scientific articles.
1 – Plan your week and your day in advance
Many people do not understand the value of planning their work and simply work in an emergency mode that cause them to constantly respond to the demands and urgencies of their supervisors and colleagues.
In doing so it becomes complicated to have a good organization at work and become more efficient. In addition, you are more exposed to stress and this can have a negative impact on your health and well-being.
Field experience shows that individuals who plan their week and work day in advance are more successful, happier and less stressed.
This is because planning ahead of time allows you to start working right away and avoid wasting time deciding which activities are most important. As a result, you accomplish more in less time, you are more satisfied and you feel better.
If you are not convinced, I propose you to discover the rule of effective or indispensable management of time proposed by Hisrich and Peters (2002) and which affirms that 10% of the time taken to plan in advance the activities will allow to save 90% of the effort needed to reach the goal later.
Summing up, according to these scientists, planning your activities in advance facilitates their achievement and the accomplishment of your professional goals.
In order to operationalize this recommendation, I propose to carry out the following exercise.
Start next week by measuring all the time you lose each day to decide where to start your work.
Then calculate the overall time you lost at the end of this week. To finish, multiply this number by the days worked in a month and then in a year.
Now, write down this number, which represents the amount of time you lose each year as a result of your decision not to plan your work in advance.
How do you feel about this?
Are you comfortable with that or do you want to make some changes?
What is certain is that now you are aware of how you are losing some of your time at work.
You can plan your week in advance over the weekend and your day in advance in the evening after work or in the evening after returning home. This will allow you to start becoming more organized and more efficient at work.
2 – Set goals that allow you to evolve professionally
Organize your week and your day to reach your professional goals.
Hundreds of studies show the positive impact of setting goals and professional effectiveness. For example, Locke and Latham (1990) show that setting goals is a well-documented technique for improving the level of individual performance.
But it is very important to distinguish between constraint goals and career development goals.
Constraint-type goals are those that you are required to carry out to meet the needs of your hierarchy.
Some individuals make the mistake of organizing their time only based on what is important to their manager.
But doing so does not allow them to evolve professionally because in this way they are limited to help their manager and their boss to achieve their professional goals.
Then, there are career development goals, that is to say those that can allow you to meet your personal and professional needs.
In line with the importance of setting goals for improving individual performance, I propose to make this suggestion a reality by following these steps.
First, think about what you can do to achieve your constraint goals in a shorter time. This is essential to save time and allocate it to your personal and professional goals.
Second, identify the actions, people, and resources that will help you achieve your personal goals at work.
Then, plan on a weekly and daily basis the actions you need to take to meet your business needs.
Finally, reduce as much as possible the time you assign to the constraints objectives and focus your work time on the actions that will allow you to meet your needs and motivations.
Doing this will allow you to progress effectively toward your goals. Over time, you will likely need to revisit your strategy to fit the needs of your job and your work environment.
If you do not know how to set your goals, I advise you to go read an article that explains how to set and achieve goals.
3 – Evaluate yourself in a positive manner
How do you communicate with yourself during your working day?
Do you evaluate yourself objectively or do you tend to be too critical of yourself?
Evaluating yourself positively has a direct impact on self-esteem and job performance.
In this sense, Judge & al. (2004) show that positive self-assessment predicts goal setting, motivation, performance, satisfaction with work and private life, professional ambition and other desirable outcomes.
Positively evaluating yourself is sort of like becoming more caring about yourself.
Doing this requires you to stop criticizing yourself all the time when you cannot be organized at work and forgive yourself when you are not effective enough as you would like.
Once again, I propose that you remain pragmatic and see how to implement these tips in your professional life.
Take a few moments to write down a list of everything you already do well in your work.
Then, congratulate yourself for all the professional results you have already achieved through your current skills.
Mentally relive one of these accomplishments until you feel the positive emotion that this event has brought you.
Raise this emotion to the maximum and then create a mental association between this emotion and a gesture of your choice.
You will have created a mental anchor that you can use at any time to feel in an optimal mental state.
Doing this will allow you to become more caring about yourself and your colleagues and this will have a positive impact on your well-being at work.
4 – Increase your influence in your professional network
Becoming organized and performing well at work do not only depend on your organizational capacity.
Your professional success also depends on your ability to interact effectively with your colleagues and supervisors.
Sparrowe, Wayne and Kraimer (2001) show that the level of centrality of an individual in his professional circle plays a key role in his performance at work.
This means that to become more organized and successful at work you need to increase your influence within your professional network.
To achieve this, I suggest you proceed as follows.
First, be aware of the influence you now have on your work environment by rating yourself from 1 to 10.
Then think about the needs of your workplace and what you can do to meet those needs.
Then, define a strategy to start helping your colleagues solve their problems in order to increase your contribution within your professional network.
Then, plan the actions you will take to positively influence your work environment.
Finally, stick to your commitments and take action to develop your leadership and influence in your professional sphere.
Doing so will allow you to develop your influence by becoming a point person for all your colleagues and therefore benefit from greater support in achieving your own goals.
5 – Get enough sleep
Becoming organized is important, but living this organization on a daily basis by pursuing your professional goals requires having good amounts of physical and mental energy.
Sleep is one of the most important factors for having that energy, feeling good and being efficient at work.
Snyder (2003) shows that lack of sleep, as well as poor sleep, has a negative impact on professional efficiency.
In addition to having a negative impact on your work performance, lack of sleep also has a negative effect on your health and well-being. In this sense, Kahneman and Krueger (2006) show that sleep has a significant impact on job satisfaction.
Now that you know that sleep plays a key role in your performance and job satisfaction, it is time to take action to assess whether you are getting enough rest.
In a notebook, note each morning how many hours you slept the night before. Do this for two weeks.
Every morning, notice how you feel in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Assign a zero if you are not tired, 3 if you are tired in the morning, 2 if you are tired in the afternoon and 1 if you are tired at night.
If, for example, you are tired in the afternoon and evening, you will score 3 points for this day.
Then notice the link between your fatigue score and the hours of sleep. The higher your score, the more you will need to change your habits to sleep better and better.
If you are interested in the topic of sleep, I advise you to go read an article on how to improve the quality of your sleep.
By doing this you will be able to make the necessary corrections to have enough energy to be more organized at work, more efficient and feel good at work.
6 – Develop your creativity
Becoming more organized and more efficient at work does not only depend on the implementation of good habits and good actions.
Resolving certain problems at work, requires getting out of your comfort zone and so what is usual.
What has always worked for years, can overnight be no longer effective.
It does not matter what job you do or what you do. This is a global phenomenon that you already face or will face in the very near future.
Solving new business challenges requires using and developing your creativity.
But being creative can also help you become more organized and efficient at work.
Here is what the studies show. The results show that creativity is strongly associated with taking action to manage time (daily planning and confidence in long-term planning) and attitude towards time (perception of time control, tenacity) and negatively related to the preference for disorganization, Darini, Pazhouhesh and Moshiri (2011).
Once again, I suggest you take advantage of these results to integrate them into your professional strategy.
Identify the major problem you are experiencing in your work. This may be a problem that you have not been able to solve for a long time.
Write down the list of actions you have taken so far to try to solve it.
Take the time to write a list of actions to solve this problem.
Do not judge this list. Include any answers including unusual or wacky.
Keep writing without stopping for at least 10 minutes.
Then, start testing these ideas in your work. Optionally, you can combine this list with:
- past actions that have given you some results
- research about other people who have already overcome a problem close to yours
- exchanges with colleagues who have more experience than you in your problem
You can also visualize this problem as already resolved at work and experiment your list of solutions with your imagination to see how it can adapt to your professional reality before taking action.
7 – Use multitasking strategically
Do you usually do many things at once?
If so, do you feel that it helps you to be organized and efficient at work?
While it is true that multitasking gives the impression that one is doing more, it is also true that doing so can have an impact on the quality of what you are doing.
Adlera and Benbunan-Fich (2012) show that a bit of multitasking improves productivity but that too much multitasking has a negative effect and that all the more so as the performance is evaluated according to the accuracy and in this case more multitasking has a deleterious effect on the effectiveness of the performance.
Let’s see how to use this information to your advantage.
Begin to classify your professional activities in order of importance.
Then, assign a number between 1 and 5 in terms of the precision required to perform each task.
You will give a score close to 5 if the task requires more precision and a note close to 1 if the accuracy is less important.
Ideally, start your work in the morning with the important tasks and which require a great precision and therefore more concentration. For these tasks, it is not desirable to proceed in multitasking mode.
You can switch to multitasking for smaller activities and for those requiring a level of accuracy between 1 and 2.
By doing this you will be able to accomplish what is really important with optimal focus while managing smaller tasks in a shorter time.
8 – Evaluate accurately the time required to complete each task
Do you know how long it takes to complete each of your tasks?
Have you ever missed a deadline at work?
If you have ever had this problem it is probably because you are not aware of the time needed to do your job properly.
As Kelly (2002) shows, in order to use time effectively, individuals must first be able to predict how much time is needed for each activity.
The best way to predict this time period is to measure it from the objective reality of your work.
Let’s move immediately to the operationalization of this tip.
Remember tasks for which your evaluation of the time of realization was not correct.
Make a table of three columns. Write a list of these tasks on the first column, on the second column the estimated time and on the third column the real time of execution. Do this for each task.
Now, measure and note the difference between the reality and your estimate for each task. You can do the same for important or frequent activities in your job.
Doing this will allow you to be more objective in managing your time and more easily meet the requested deadlines.
Your planning will become more efficient and you will be more organized, more efficient and less stressed at work.
9 – Reinforce your professional awareness
Improving your organization requires becoming aware of your own way of working at work and away from work.
Research shows that the consciousness personality factor is positively associated with work performance (Barrick, Mount, and Judge 2001, Judge and Bono 2001, Liao and Chuang 2004) and negatively with procrastination (Van Eerde 2003).
Even if it is a personality factor, and therefore a rather stable aspect of an individual’s behavior, it is always possible to become more present or conscious at work if you decide to do so and if you are ready to take action.
Becoming professionally conscious means becoming an attentive observer of how you act at work. This involves taking time to notice:
- how you function
- behaviors that allow you to be organized and perform at work
- behaviors that negatively influence your performance
- the emotions you experience during the day
- what you can improve
The goal is to eliminate what negatively impacts your work efficiency
Here’s how to get there.
As soon as you get to work, write down on a notebook how you feel, the emotions you experience and the thoughts you have.
After completing each task, take a few moments to check your energy level, level of satisfaction, and how you feel about what you just finished.
Then, note the positive and negative feedbacks from your professional circle. Think about these feedbacks and decide whether they represent you or not.
If they seem relevant to you, use them to become more present at work and make possible changes to the way you work.
By doing so, you will become an observer more and more attentive and objective of yourself.
This will make it easier for you to overcome your limits and become better organized and more efficient at work.
10 – Use implementation intentions
Becoming more organized and more efficient at work also requires you to anticipate the obstacles you may encounter in order to prepare yourself to overcome them in the best possible conditions.
One way to anticipate future difficulties and respond appropriately is the use of implementation intentions.
Gollwitzer (1993) proposes that success in achieving an objective is facilitated not only by defining objectives but also by using “if-then” plan implementation intentions that specify when, where and how the person will develop solutions that will help achieve the goal.
How are these implementation intentions working?
This is what other research in this area says.
Forming implementation intentions creates a strong mental association between a situation and a behavioral response. Therefore, when a person encounters a situation relevant to his or her purpose, thanks to the implementation intention, the goal-oriented behavior is automatically triggered (Aarts and Dijksterhuis, 2000b, Brandstätter, Lengfelder, and Gollwitzer, 2001; Webb and Sheeran, 2003).
Summarizing, implementation intentions make it possible to anticipate behaviors related to the manifestation of future events and to facilitate the implementation of these same behaviors.
How to use implementation intentions to become organized at work?
Here is what I propose to you. Start from your own experience in terms of professional time management.
What obstacles do you face most of the time in organizing and implementing your work tasks?
For each of these obstacles, define implementation intentions in the form of an ‘if-then’ action plan.
For example, the next time this obstacle comes to work (where), at a meeting (when), I will act differently (how) to become more organized, to be more successful and to flourish at work.
Doing this will make you less responsive and more proactive in your work. Over time, you will develop a greater confidence in your ability to find solutions as well as a better organization and professional efficiency.
11 – Take care of your workspace: how to organize your professional office
Your conscious choices are not the only factors that impact your organizational capacity and your work performance. Your workstation also plays an important role in setting up your organization at work.
In keeping with this, Robertson and Huang (2006) show that the workspace has a positive impact on job performance.
If you have the ability to adapt your workspace to your needs, then you can take action to improve your organization at work.
Here is how to take full advantage of the results of this study by applying them to your professional situation.
First, identify aspects of your workspace that are wasting time on a daily basis. Then, evaluate how much time each day you lose because of them.
Then, write down these aspects in your notebook and calculate the total time lost due to these items.
Now that you know all the time you lose every day because of this, put in place the necessary changes right away.
Start with the factors that make you waste the most time to quickly save time.
This may be the way your files are positioned and filed on your computer, unclassified paper files or classified in an useless way, unreliable work tools, and so on.
After acting on your environment, measure the gain in time and productivity you have achieved.
You can also customize your workspace with objects that are meaningful to you and benefit from the positive emotions these objects evoke to enhance your well-being at work.
Doing this will allow you over time to become more organized, more efficient, less stressed and more fulfilled at work.
How to organize your professional office
It is for this reason that becoming organized and performing better at work also requires taking these elements into account. Here is what research in this area says.
Here is how to organize your professional office:
- take care of your posture
- organize your workspaces according to the activities you wish to accomplish
- create a quiet work environment
- keep good air quality and optimal temperature
- enjoy the benefits of the sun
- use the benefits of beauty
- choose the right color, shape and brightness
Take care of your posture
Whether you are working in a company or at home, caring for your posture is essential for your health, well-being and performance.
Liao and Drury (2010) show that posture has a positive impact on performance and professional efficiency. One way to improve your posture while thinking about your health might be the use of adjustable height electric desks.
Organize your working spaces according to the activities you want to complete
If you work at home or have the opportunity to organize your professional office within your company, you should think about organizing your work environment according to your professional activities as proposed by Candifo, Thomas, Haddad, Zhang, Mackey and Ye (2018) as well as Mesthrige (2019).
In practice, define a different physical space according to your most important activities and arrange these parts so that they are optimized for each of these activities.
Create a silent work environment
A quiet work environment is conducive to staying focused on your most important tasks. Mak and Lui (2011) show that different types of workplace noise as well as conversations have a negative impact on the ability to concentrate and on work performance.
If you work at home, you have more opportunity to create a quiet work environment that is suitable to your performance. Eliminate any distraction to help you concentrate and reduce the chance of error.
Keep good air quality and optimum temperature
The quality of the indoor environment in your company or home office if you work at home, has an impact on your well-being and your performance as shown by Al Horr, Arif, Kaushik, Mazroei and Elsarrag (2016).
The ability to control airflow has a positive effect on productivity, Obayashi, Miyagi, Ito, Taniguchi, Ishii and Shimoda (2019) and on job satisfaction.
Plants help prevent unhealthy building syndrome according to Fitzgerald and Dammer (2012), they increase well-being, psychological comfort, job satisfaction, physical health, comfort, creativity and productivity (Knight and Haslam, 2010, Smith and Pitt, 2009), and they reduce sick days and increase productivity, Bringslimark, Patil and Hartig (2008).
Lan, Zhiwei and Pan (2010) show that temperature has an impact on well-being and productivity. Tanabe, Nishihara and Haneda (2006) show that beyond a certain temperature, there is a decrease in productivity.
In summary, regularly ventilate your office and install plants to enjoy good air quality and get a temperature for your well-being and flexibility.
Enjoy the benefits of the sun
Exposure to the sun has a positive impact on job satisfaction, well-being and reduces the likelihood of employees leaving Leather, Pyrgas, Beal and Lawrence (1998).
If you can, position your office in a place that allows you to enjoy the benefits of natural light as much as possible.
Enjoy the benefits of beauty
Sander, Caza, and Jordan (2019) define three dimensions of the psychological relationship to the work environment and show that focus, sense of beauty, and social connections strongly influence how people perceive their work environment.
Choose the right color, the good shape and the good brightness
Garris and Monroe (2005) show that color influences not only mood but also well-being and productivity.
Poursafar, Sriram, Rodrigues and Devi (2019) show that, depending on the personality of the individual, three factors of the work environment, namely: color, shape and luminosity have a variable impact on the performance at work.
In summary, try to personalize your workspace by using objects with colors and shapes to facilitate your motivation, your performance and your well-being.
12 – Develop your emotional intelligence
As you know, the organization and the professional performance do not only depend on the accomplishment of your tasks.
Developing good relationships with your colleagues is essential to becoming more organized, efficient and satisfied at work.
One of the ways to develop good relationships with others is to use and develop your emotional intelligence.
Thi Lam and Kirby (2002) show that emotional intelligence has a positive effect on work performance.
But what is emotional intelligence?
In agreement with Mayer and Salovey (1997), emotional intelligence does not reflect a single trait or skill, but rather a set of distinct emotional reasoning skills: perceive, understand and regulate emotions.
Perceiving emotions involves recognizing and interpreting the meaning of different emotional states and their relationship to other sensory experiences.
Understanding emotions involves understanding how basic emotions are combined to form complex emotions, how emotions are influenced by events related to experiences, and whether different emotional reactions are likely in a given social context.
Regulating emotions includes controlling emotions in oneself and others.
A person’s emotional intelligence is a clue to how they perceive, understand and regulate emotions. Summing up, emotional intelligence is a form of intelligence that includes “the ability to monitor one’s own feelings and emotions and those of others, to differentiate them and to use that information to guide one’s own thoughts and actions” (Salovey and Mayer, 1990, 189).
Now let’s see how to apply this information in your organization and professional efficiency.
In agreement with the three components of emotional intelligence highlighted by the scientific literature, I propose to proceed as follows.
Rate yourself for your ability to:
Then, take time to remember a professional situation that went wrong for you because of relationship problems.
As you take responsibility for this event, identify which factor of emotional intelligence played a determining role in this experience.
Then, think about what you could do differently if you were able to go back in time. Finally, write down what you learned in your notebook.
Being aware of your room for improvement in terms of emotional management will make you feel more comfortable and develop better professional relationships. This will have an impact on your organization and your efficiency at work.
13 – Increase your self-efficacy
Becoming organized and performing well at work is above all a question of choice and coherence. It all depends on the beliefs you have developed over the years in relation to your ability to accomplish a number of tasks and achieve different results.
In this sense, Bandura (1997) defines the concept of self-efficacy as the belief that a person has in his capacity to organize and realize the necessary action plan to produce the expected result.
This means that the more you believe strongly in yourself, the more you work to improve yourself and the more you trust your ability to succeed in what you do.
The concept of self-efficacy is also valid in the professional context as shown by a meta-analysis of 114 studies conducted by Stajkovic and Luthans (1998) that show that self-efficacy contributes 28% to work performance.
In keeping with these results, we can say that about one third of your professional performance depends on your ability to enhance your self-efficacy.
Here is an exercise to immediately apply this information in the context of your professional life.
What grade between 1 and 10 do you give yourself in terms of self-efficacy at work?
How do you explain this grade?
What can you do right now to strengthen your self-efficacy?
Answering these questions could highlight a limiting belief that prevents you from performing as you would like.
It is also possible that you do not immediately have elements of response to the actions you should take to become more self-efficient.
Again, change often requires challenging yourself and going out of your usual way of thinking and acting.
By being more attentive to work and asking yourself these questions regularly, you will be able to become more organized and efficient at work.
Final conclusion on how to become organized at work and be more effective
At the beginning of this article, you sought to understand how to become organized and successful at work.
During your reading you have discovered 13 scientifically proven principles to become more organized in your work.
In addition, for each of these 13 principles, I proposed 13 operational tips that you can implement now to improve your organization and your professional efficiency.
Doing this will allow you to become more organized, more efficient and more fulfilled at work.
Before you leave, I would like to ask you a question and ask you something.
First, I would like to know how, when and where will you apply the above mentioned advice?
Secondly, I ask you to share this article with your other people because the information you have just discovered is able to have a positive impact on their lives.
If you wish to benefit from a personalized support to become organized at work, write to us by going through our contact form to take advantage of a free coaching session with a time management coach.