In my super-organised dreams, I would have written this piece at a tidy desk, on a pristine keyboard, with the help of carefully made notes stored in an immaculate notepad. It would have been ready a week in advance, and completed in time set aside expressly for that purpose. There would not have been a single moment of panic involved.
Some of you might think that working like this is just, well, working. For the rest of us, life isn’t quite so easy. Things get done in the harsh glare of real-life disorganisation, at a desk quivering with piles of — who knows? — on a keyboard sprinkled with crumbs. Diaries languish unfilled; phone numbers are lost. Soon your whole life is reduced to one giant, sticky clump of post-its accessorised with fluff from the bottom of your handbag. Organised people take one look at said handbag and are practically sick with stress. But what they don’t understand is that being disorganised doesn’t make you stupid — it just makes you less efficient.
So while tidying up your act won’t make you a better employee, it will mean you get to go home on time. And make you ludicrously smug.
Ah yes, smugness. Pretty much the best reason for getting organised is that your smugness is boosted by about a squillion per cent. Well, that and you can stock up on stationery — it has been scientifically proven that organisation is directly proportional to the number of highlighters possessed. So tidy up. At least a bit. Consolidate the post-It clump into a small diary/address book (or electronic alternative if you’re a bit geeky), and open your post.To be really organised, you should open it over the bin and put it into two trays — one for immediate action, one for filing (lesser mortals can stop with the opening).
Then tackle the huge list of tasks currently whizzing around your mind. Take a pen and an extremely long piece of paper and write down everylast thing — using different colours to break up the monotony if necessary. Obviously, only a superhuman could ever really complete every request, but the act of formalising things on paper will free up some much-needed head space. And when your boss tries to delegate extra responsibilities, you have a defensive weapon close at hand.
A large part of being organised is attitude. Adopt a brisk, no-nonsense verbal style, and people will presume that you know exactly what is going on (which is more than half the battle won). Be decisive: you’ll save time and stress, and impress people who might promote you. And if you make the wrong decision? Organise an immediate, important meeting to sort the situation out.
But beware: there is such a thing as being too organised. If you find yourself writing 10-minute gossip sessions into your diary, or timing lazy lunchtime picnics down to the last millisecond, or planning your outfits and accessories for the whole week, it’s probably gone too far.