Five tips to get organized at work

Start or end the year right by getting organized at work. Our five organizing tips will help you cut through your clutter once and for all.

Five tips to get organized at work

It's time to get organized at work.

No one wants to be considered the office airhead. But losing just one important phone number (“I can’t believe I spilled coffee on that sticky note!”) or forgetting one vital meeting (“Where is my darn calendar, anyway?”) because you’re disorganized may make you look like one. These five tips can teach you how to get organized at work so you're known for your brilliant ideas rather than your scattered brain.

How to get organized at work in 5 steps

1. Chuck your junk

Just like when you declutter at home, think about whether you’ve needed something within the last year. Make a “toss” pile, a “store” pile, and a currently active “to-do” pile. That take-out menu from the bankrupt sandwich shop down the street? Toss it. The budget report from 2017? Store it, but only one copy. A printout of the presentation you’re giving on Friday? Keep it on hand.

2. Store, store, and store some more

Resist the urge to be a perfectionist in dealing with the old paperwork in your “store” pile, or you’ll be lost amid stacks of miscellany for days. Just create a way to organize your materials in a way that makes sense to you. Everything related to the annual meeting could go in one labeled plastic bin or box, for example. Then work with your boss to find a place outside your office or cubicle to store this stuff.

3. Tackle your to-do pile

This is the key to how to get organized at work. It's where you should invest your efforts for the biggest payoff in long-term, sustainable organization. Create file folders for each project you are currently working on (or a different folder for each client or for each upcoming due date—whatever makes sense for you). When you complete a project, go through the file and discard the unimportant documents within. Then store the folder—which has been winnowed down to include only the project essentials—into an appropriate bin.

4. Keep your desk clear

The surface of your desk should now be visible. Hooray! Keep it that way. One surefire way to prevent clutter from accumulating on your desk is to adopt the one-touch rule. Deal with every piece of paper that crosses your desk immediately. Trash it, act on it, file it or—if you really must—place it in your inbox until you have time to deal with it. (The one-touch rule is also applicable to email. Either respond right away, or direct your incoming messages to appropriate email folders.)

5. Use technology wisely

Strive to keep phone numbers and other often-used data on your computer and/or mobile phone. Online organizers—which you can access via your computer or your phone—can combine your calendar, address book, to-do lists, and more. They can also send you pop-up reminders about meetings and deadlines. It may take a little time to master using these tools, but they’ll save you time (and lots of sticky notes) in the long run.

You're not going to wake up one day and magically know how to get organized at work—and stay that way—but persistence pays off. Want more ways to keep yourself in check? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you'll get career advice and job search tips sent directly to your inbox. From writing a resume to interviewing with managers to conquering your public speaking fears, Monster has expert insights that'll bring clarity to your world.