Improving Yourself: The Art of Organisation
Organization is an interesting skill. It seems to have almost become a trend to bask in the inability to be organized — to be scatter-brained and messy. However, while some people work better in slightly chaotic environments (something about an adrenaline rush), being unorganized might become your worst enemy.
Truth be told, being disorganized might hold you back from your career goals. It doesn’t matter what area you are working in, recruiters are always on the lookout for those who can keep on top of deadlines, manage themselves effectively and have a keen eye for detail. Don’t overlook these skills—recruiters truly value them.
By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can determine where you need work on and adjust accordingly.
Most recently, I got hired for a new job and upon receiving my contract; I noticed some details that were not discussed previously with my recruiter, so I reached out to them for clarification. It had turned out that that section was not relevant to me and my position; they had just forgotten to take it out. The response? “Good catch, Alexa!” The eye for detail is always appreciated and, more importantly, noticed. I have often been commended on my organization skills.
So, how can you be more organized, when you’re not a naturally organized person? In this article, I will share with you some practical tips as well as some apps that can help you on your way.*
*I would like to point out that I am not affiliated with any of these programs — I am recommending them purely from my experience with them!
First, decided if you’re a pen-and-paper type of person or a digital person
Whichever type of medium you’re more comfortable with will help you in choosing your means by which you will hone your skill. There is no point in you buying yourself a journal and trying to hop on the bullet journal train – not everyone is suited for this approach. Some people work better with a digital option such as a calendar on your phone. There is no right or wrong here, it’s just a question of which works better for you.
Identify your strengths and your weaknesses
Maybe you’re good at getting your tasks done on time but you could use a little improvement on time management so you’re not always scrambling to get those tasks done.
Maybe you have a habit of getting overwhelmed with the number of tasks you have and end up forgetting a few things here and there. By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can determine where you need to work on and adjust accordingly.
For instance, if you need some help on getting overwhelmed with tasks, a scheduling system, with the aid of a calendar or agenda, can help you plan out your tasks and focus on one thing at a time, while making sure that you leave enough time for everything. Last year, Forbes published an article on time management, covering things such as setting time limits, utilising to-do lists and using calendars.
Don’t forget to up your note-taking skills
Note-taking is seemingly very underrated, at least that’s how I see it in my circle. It is not just something for students, it can also help you in your work. It will help you focus and remember tasks, ideas, important feedback, all of which you can return to a later point.
I was teased a lot during my undergraduate studies for the number of notes took; but do you know who they asked when they needed to know something? Me. “I don’t suppose anyone would happen to remember so-and-so from the last meeting?” It’s a really good feeling to be able to say yes, pull up your notes and help out. It will make you stand out as a reliable person.
Decide how you will keep organized and stick to it
I have found that if I switch in between different methods; it ends up making me much more scattered. If you decide that you are better suited for digital methods then chose your apps and stick to them. You can obviously choose multiple ones but don’t end up choosing so many that you end up lost.
At one point, I have 3 different agendas and also used Notion and iCalendar. The result? Absolutely chaos. I had some notes here, some notes there and as a result, I would end up not being able to find what I needed or ended up forgetting something important. Now I have my system simplified down to one physical agenda and Notion.
Have patience, new habits take time
One of the most eye-opening bits of wisdom my therapist once told me was that it takes 21 days for new habits to form in the brain. It’s all to do with muscle memory and developing that takes time. They have disputed the exact number of days has since in research.
However, the idea remains the same, once you push yourself to keep up with your newly formed habits. Over time, it becomes easier to do and eventually; it becomes second nature. You might need to leave a few Post-its here and there, reminding you to update your agenda or calendar but eventually, you’ll remember on your own.
Patience is key. It is for this same reason that I recommend starting off simply and not overwhelming yourself with too many mediums to keep up with all at once.
Finally, here are some platforms that can help you
Either way, sometimes you need extra help. Over the years, I have tried a number of different platforms and apps to keep on time of my work and deadlines.
Since then, I have been able to hone my own system, I now know what works best for me. Finding out what will work best for you require a trial, error and most importantly, patience. Just because one type of method doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean another one might not.
Notion is an wonderful online workspace — and my personal favorite, when it comes to a digital set up — you can literally have everything in one place, from setting up a calendar and adding your deadlines, keeping all of your tasks in one place with the ability to move them from ‘in progress’ to ‘completed’ by the swipe of your mouse, and even embedding files so you need not try to find them on your laptop. I personally enjoy it for the ability to viewing both current and upcoming tasks and keep all relevant documents attached to each.
- Google Calendar / iCalendar
In my circle, I know that a lot of people use this yet so many people don’t — but it has so much potential. You can sync your calendar with your email, and it can also add any important meetings or events that will sync across your devices. If you allow it in your settings, events will also automatically sync into your calendar from your emails if it detects one. This saves you time in having to remember to keep on adding things manually. Another tip: color coding. It can do wonders in helping you see all of your tasks and make sense of it all.
This is a great app for those looking for a balance between pen-and-paper and digital. It does, however, require an iPad and an Apple pencil, therefore it might not be suitable for everyone. On the other hand, if you do have those tools, GoodNotes allows you to write your notes digitally with the use of the Apple pencil,
There is a common misconception that bullet journals have to be extravagant, extremely precise and detailed, and very artistic. Truthfully, this is not the case at all. The bullet journal actually started off much more simplistically — it’s just that people ended up putting their own styles on it, which is fine. That being said, your bullet journal does not need to be extravagant and artistic, it can be as simple as ever. But it can help you keep track of your tasks, notes, upcoming dates all in one place. A simple notebook, whatever size you like will do. Personally I would recommend something that can also fit into your bag so that you can always have it with you, even when you’re on the go.
So, what are the benefits of organization skills? Let’s review:
- Staying focused on multiple tasks
- Time management
- Maintaining your energy — doing your best to not burn yourself out
- Planning & prioritizing
- Communication & collaboration
- Employers will view you as reliable and dependable
Overall, organization has both physical and mental benefits. Remember that developing this skill will take time, but it will be worth it. Organization skills really should not be undermined, they will help in any field. Now go forth and organize, organize everything! The power is in your hands and it will be your secret weapon.