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Being organised at work is crucial. I’m a bit of a neat freak, however if you’re not that’s fine, but you need to have measures in place in order to stay on top of things. You want to make yourself the go-to person for information and be known as someone who is across everything, always up to date and switched on.

You need to strike a balance when it comes to being organised. There’s no point spending a huge amount of time writing pretty lists and making cute labels if it’s going to take over your actual tasks. That’s just procrastination. So make sure what you’re doing isn’t labour intensive and just use systems that are easy for you to do as you go.

Here’s some insight into how I manage my busy days and stay on top of things:

My Daily Planner
I recently purchased an Erin Condren Life Planner and it is simply devine. You can personalise it with your name, it’s easy to carry around and I like how the pages are laid out. It gives a monthly overview, which I use for events and birthdays, and then it breaks each week down across two pages with lists at the bottom and on the side. I use this for both my personal and work-life to keep track of meetings and functions etc. Another trick I use is washi tape (the really cute Japanese tape that you can write on). I put it across key dates for holidays and things that I want to blank out for a few days.
The Erin Condren planners aren’t cheap but I really love having something that is pretty and serves a great purpose! I still use my email calendar, but I personally like having a hard copy diary (a little old fashioned). You could use Filofax ones or a diary from somewhere like Kikki-K or Typo. Check out Pinterest for more tips on using Erin Condren planners (lots of pins link to really useful reviews).

My Life Planner

Calendar Alerts
Email calendar alerts that pop up with notifications are very helpful. I use them all the time for reminders! For phone calls, meetings, events, actions etc – plus I like them just for little tasks that I need to do. It’s helpful how you can include weblinks if you need to remember to download something or apply for something online. I sometimes set them just to remind myself to email someone.

Email Folders
Creating folders in your emails is the best! I have a range of different clients, so each one has their own folder, plus I have internal ones for being organised. It makes it so much easier to find things. Even if your job doesn’t include clients you can have folders for all your different topics and projects. For example:
– Admin (contracts, pay, leave forms etc)
– Important (log in details and anything you classify as important)
– Strategy (anything related to strategy)
– Planning (key dates, ideas, lists etc)
– Events (tickets, dates etc)
– News (newsletters and info)
– Project XYZ
– Client XYZ
– Past Projects (if you’re not working on a certain project anymore, I drag the folder into a grouped folder of all my past projects/clients – it keeps things neat and tidy but still all together).
You can number the folders so they appear in the order of your preference. You can also create new ones at the start of each year if you want them kept together this way – I find this useful for event based projects.

Notebooks & To Do Lists
I have a different notebook for each client and I write all the contact details of the main people I work with in the front. I also have an ‘Admin’ notebook which I use for all my to do lists and internal meetings. If I don’t write something down, I don’t remember it! If I have lots of things to do in one day, I number my tasks in order of priority. If I’m not using a daily to do list, I update it each week so it stays nice and neat.
I also like to date everything, whether it’s a meeting or just some scribbles, it makes it a lot easier if you’ve got to go back and look for something. It’s also useful if someone asks when something happened – you can just flip back through your notebook and tell them.

Keep Across News & Current Affairs
I try and read at least one newspaper a day but I’m forever scanning online news sites. There’s not really any excuses for not being across the news these days – there are so many apps and aggregators out there (see a good review on some of the latest news apps here).  You should also keep an eye on your trade publications/verticals and sign up to their newsletters, which means the info comes straight into your inbox. Most industries have dedicated sites and magazines. For example, if you work in Australia:
– Media & Marketing – check out Mumbrella, B&T, Marketing Mag and AdNews
– Property – check out Your Investment Property, Australian Property Investment, Elite Agent, REB etc
– Law – check out Lawyers Weekly and the Legal Affairs section of newspapers like The Australian
– Retail – check out Inside Retail, Retail Biz, QSR Media etc
– Technology – check out ZDNet, Tech World, Gizmodo etc
– Start Ups/Business/SMEs – check out Start-Up-Smart, Smart Company, Dynamic Business, Australian Anthill, Shoestring/Startup Daily etc.
Most industry peak bodies put out publications as well. Such as:
– Engineering – Engineers Australia magazine
– Accounting – Charter Magazine by the Institute of Chartered Accounts
– Public Relations – The PR Report

Google Alerts
Google Alerts send you a notification via email when a keyword you’ve chosen has been mentioned online – so you can subscribe/choose to get certain alerts. As I work in PR, it’s obviously tip top important for me to know when my clients have been mentioned in the media. However there are many purposes to them and I think they can be applied to many industries. You can use them to track what’s going on and be alerted when something important, that is relevant to your profession, has happened. For example, if you’re an engineer and if you’re interested in a big project (such as the Barangaroo development) you could set up an alert for it. You can also set up alerts for your competitors to stay across what they’re doing (though try not to always be looking over your shoulder too much!).

Post It Notes
I live for post it notes! I keep a huge stack by my phone so I can right things down straight away. I also use them for any urgent random tasks / when someone asks me for something they need. I also stick them around my computer as reminders!

Filing is actually simple. Your work probably already has a system in place for filing but as most things are digital these days, I recommend keeping labelled hard copy manilla type folders for all your print outs and notes. You could keep them in alphabetical order on your desk in some pretty magazine holders. I love the Kikki-k ones otherwise Officeworks always has them.

How do you stay organised? Let me know in the comments below! x

Laura is the Founder & Editor of The Workher. She is an award winning Public Relations professional, who loves blogging about surviving and thriving in the workplace as a young woman.

5 comments on “How to stay on top & be organised”

  1. I love this article – practical, thorough and full of links to useful resources. Well done Laura! Now that I’m working at home (a very recent lifestyle change from a full-time desk job) I often find myself swamped with things to do, and lists (and post-it notes) are my SAVIOUR. And, while I adore gorgeous, paper-based diaries I’ve turned to digital these days, because it’s just easier to keep everything synced.

    When it comes to staying in touch / up to date with everything, the issue I find is working out which of the vast plethora of resources to dive into first…

    • Hi Joy – thanks so much for your lovely comment! Great to hear this piece and all the links are useful.
      Yes digital is good for alerts and reminders, that’s great you know what works for you too. I think I love the paper diary cos it’s tactile and visual – I like having it open on my desk 
      I know what you mean re the vast amount of resources there are, it’s important to not get overwhelmed and just find what suits your needs and then get into your groove. To prioritise tasks I really find the number trick helps!
      Will stay across your working-from-home journey over on your blog!

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