How to Get Your Work Life Organized

Overhead view of an organized desk with items for work
••• Roxana Beatrfz Wegner / Contributor / Getty Images

Are you frequently overwhelmed by your workload and suffering from information overload? Are you frustrated that you don't know how or where to start? Don't worry. Let's take a look at the areas of your work life that need organization and tackle them one at a time.

Organize Yourself

The most important time management secret is that you must do the right things first. It's easy to spend too much time on things that are urgent but not important.

The trick is to stay focused on the important things and not waste precious time on anything else. Here are a couple of ways to do that.

First, follow the 80/20 Rule, also known as Pareto's Principle. Applying it to time management, you might conclude that 80 percent of your time is spent focusing on only 20 percent of your real job responsibilities. Or, that devoting 20 percent of your time to one big goal will take make 80 percent of your job run more smoothly.

Thinking through how the 80/20 rule applies to your work life can help you manage your time more effectively.

Secondly, prepare a “to-do” list. Keep it reasonable. Checking off those items one by one is oddly rewarding. It tells you that you’re getting the job done.

Organize Your Desk

Every day more information is thrown at you. You’re too busy to deal with it right away, so you let it pile up. It’s a bad habit. Instead, set aside just a few minutes out of every day to go through the mess.

This is another oddly rewarding task. See how much smaller the pile is now?

Organize Your Space

Whether you have a corner office with an expansive view or a windowless cubicle, there are always things you can do to organize your space that will help you be more productive.

Don’t just accept it as it is. Think about what would work for you. If you prefer to work standing up, invest in a standing desk. If an erasable whiteboard would help, get one. If you’re intrigued by the concept of Feng Shui, read up on it and apply those principles to your workspace.

Organize Your Incoming Info

Most email programs give you tools to manage your email and reduce clutter. The time spent using these tools can save you hours down the road.

Badly organized people tend to have one massive email inbox, and it is the plague of their lives. Create folders with titles that match your major responsibilities. Sort through your inbox and stow every message in the one that fits.

If you have a horror of deleting mail, create a “miscellaneous” folder and dump everything that fits nowhere in it, just in case you ever need it.