Staying organized at work can be a daily challenge for some. For others, it can be a piece of cake. Where do you fall? If you’re like most of us, you could probably use a little help. Even if it’s not an everyday challenge, a lack of organization can really cut into your productivity. Below are five tips to help you get into the right mindset and become more organized at work.
1. Put It All Together
Whether you work from home or an office, you may have more than one area where you have work-related materials stashed. Centralize it all. When you have what you need in a central location, you can maximize your productivity. Likewise, when you get rid of non-essentials, you can rid yourself of distractions.
2. Clear Your Desk
You may – or may not – be surprised to learn there is research confirming clutter affects productivity. It creates stress and negatively affects mood. A survey by OfficeMax a few years ago found that 77% of Americans believe clutter damages productivity, echoing prior studies that executives waste six weeks a year searching for lost items and information.
You can start your de-clutter efforts with three piles: toss, store/keep, and “action required.” That phone number on a slip of paper can go in the active to do pile, because you need to add that name and phone number to your prospect or customer database. That finance report from last year can go in the keep (or store) pile. That old menu from your favorite-but-now-gone restaurant? That’s a toss-up; you may want to throw it out, or you may want to retain it as a fond reminder of something from your past.
The general rule should be if you have not used it recently, you can give it up . . . or at least move it elsewhere. What’s important is you be critical in your review and keep only what may be useful again.
Organize your materials in a way that makes sense to you, so you can find and use it later. Create file folder (or electronic files to reduce your storage cabinets). For things you need to maintain (like old tax records), consider relocating them, so they don’t clutter your workspace but are still accessible when needed.
3. Get Some Rest
Your work environment is not the only thing that influences your ability to stay focused and organized. If you’re not getting an appropriate amount of sleep, that can cloud your mind and undermine your daily achievements. Your goal should be seven to eight hours of sleep nightly. Some experts even suggest a “power nap” to help you re-charge, so you can achieve more late in your workday or after work.
4. Time Block Your Day and Engage Tech to Help
When you create a schedule for your workday – even if you know it is subject to change – you are likely to stay more organized and get more done. Identify your goals and consider what amount of time is appropriate to achieving each of those goals. Don’t multitask. It is arguably the most unproductive thing you can do. Set a goal (or series of goals) for each hour and stick with it, when possible. According to Peter Bregman at the Harvard Business Review, productivity declines by as much as 40% when you multitask. That’s because you are not actually multitasking; you are switching between tasks and interrupting yourself. If a client has an emergency, that obviously takes precedence; however, you should try to get back on schedule as quickly as reasonably possible.
Setting aside time to do specific tasks includes email. Reading and responding to emails as they come in during the day is not effective time management. It is far better to set aside a block of time to address emails at specific times during your day.
Don’t forget to include breaks in your schedule to clear your mind; grab some coffee or water, take a walk around the block, or do something fun like a video game or crossword puzzle. Just don’t let your break take over the day.
Technology can help you do some of your work more effectively. It can provide you and your team with templates to standardize how you get work done. A good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program can help you put your prospect and customer communications on a schedule. A smart project management program can help ensure projects are completed within scope, on time, and on budget. Perhaps more important, higher customer satisfaction ranks as a top benefit of project management.
5. Learn to Say “No”
It’s not always easy, but it is important you be able to say “no” from time to time. If you are unable to say no, you risk being taken for granted or being stretched too thin – which can adversely affect whatever else you do. Being able to say no can help you reduce stress, give you more time, and increase your energy. Surprisingly, it may help you gain the respect of others, too. According to the website, Health Prep, individuals see those who set healthy boundaries as having higher self-esteem and confidence.
Word & Brown Can Help, Too
For more than 30 years, brokers have turned to Word & Brown to help them be more successful. We can help you present, quote, close, and enroll more business. We will even go with you to client presentations and bring quotes, enrollment materials, and multilingual enrollers (in California) to explain the benefits of the products and services you are proposing.
If you are interested in learning how our tools, resources, and carrier relationships can help you increase your sales and improve your service to clients, just ask. Visit our new broker web page, or contact any of our six regional offices in California and Nevada. We’re here for you!
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