A core career success strategy is getting yourself organized. Have you ever worked with someone who always looked like they were stressed out? They may have piles of paper everywhere, messy personal presentation or that look of panic in their eyes. If this sounds like you, then you are not alone. Most of us can relate to feeling overwhelmed ‐ like it is all too much.
But, if left unmanaged, this can be a serious career derailer.
You want to present an air of competence, calm and self‐assurance ‐ not complete chaos! If you seem disorganized, then people are less likely to trust you with important tasks, listen to your ideas, or invite you to meetings or conferences. You are also less likely to be invited to join other career building projects or initiatives.
Immediate Action – Look the Part:
- Spend 10 minutes before each meeting pulling together your thoughts and notes. Make sure you appear professional (check your hair, teeth, clothes) and spend one minute relaxing before the meeting so you are calm when you walk in that door.
- Always get places early ‐ leave 10 minutes earlier than you think you need to be there. Take a notebook with you so you can always use extra time to plan or think through business problems.
- Speak slowly and calmly. Don’t rush your speech and use a low tone. It will convey calmness.
- Walk purposefully but calmly ‐ stop rushing.
- Clear your desk. Put your paper in files, a drawer, in your briefcase, anywhere that people can’t see it. Only have out you are working on that moment.
- Make sure your meeting folder (compendium or briefcase) is new looking, tidy and has a zip so your papers don’t spill everywhere. Take out anything that looks messy.
Remember appearances count. Even if you are not organized, you should at least look like you are.
- Figure out what are the real ‘fires’ that you have to fight. Write down the urgent tasks that perpetually come out and figure out if you can manage them differently. If not, leave time in your schedule each day to manage them.
- Leave space to do nothing in your diary. Our best ideas often come from ‘downtime’.
- Get some help with organizing your filing and desk ‐ make it easy to use and to remember.
- Spend 10 minutes each day sorting your paper and filing or binning. Don’t let it build up.
- Add a decent time buffer to projects wherever possible to account for emergencies.
- Read First Things First by Stephen Covey and get your priorities in order.
- Ask yourself how you could do certain tasks more efficiently (e.g. sign up on Internet banking, create automatic payments, order some of your groceries over the net and have them delivered, hire a student to clean your house… )
- Cross out things that you don’t need to do (Say NO).
- Focus on what is important. When you are considering an additional commitment don’t say yes right away. Consider how it fits in with your bigger goals and the way you want your life to be.
- Delegate as much as you can (Can you share duties with other family members? Anyone else going to the post office? – can they post it for you? etc…)
As with all changes and improvements, learning to manage your time is a skill you can consistently improve on leading ultimately to a more balanced life, more career success and better stress management.
What will you do today to help improve your management of time?
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