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How to Become More Organized (Comprehensive Quickstart Guide)

Read Time: 12 mins

Getting more organized may seem daunting. After all, it’s a broad topic and you might not be sure where to even begin. We can help. Here's how to be more organized.

A woman writing in an organizer or plannerA woman writing in an organizer or plannerA woman writing in an organizer or planner
Getting organized can change the game for your business. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Being organized has a major impact on your work performance. Not to mention, there are several benefits to actually getting organized. 

That’s why in this guide, we’ll share the benefits of being organized as well as tips and strategies to help you become more organized.

Benefits of Being Organized

Before sharing practical tips and strategies for becoming organized, let’s talk about the benefits: 

  • Ability to meet deadlines. When you’re organized, you’re more likely to meet deadlines. That’s because you know exactly what needs to be done as well as where everything you need is. 
  • Saves you time. You don’t have to waste time searching for project files, assets, and documents. 
  • Reduces stress. According to selecthealth, being organized reduces stress. Finding things becomes a walk in the park when you’re organized and know where everything is
  • Improved performance. You’ll be able to complete your projects and tasks faster. This can improve the productivity of your entire organization according to an article by The Productivity Experts.
  • Better work life balance. You’ll be more likely to complete your tasks during work time which means you won’t have to take work home with you or work overtime
  • Accomplish goals. Lastly, since you’re completing tasks faster and you know where everything lives, you’ll have more time. You can use that time to focus on and accomplish your career goals.

Now that you understand the importance of organization, let's look at how to be more organized.

General Organization Principles

Meeting between two people across a table. Only hands are visible holding a tablet and pen with papers and laptop nearby.Meeting between two people across a table. Only hands are visible holding a tablet and pen with papers and laptop nearby.Meeting between two people across a table. Only hands are visible holding a tablet and pen with papers and laptop nearby.
Getting organized can set the stage for broader success. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Now that you know the benefits of being organized, it’s time to get familiar with basic organization principles. Here are some tips on how to improve your organizational skills: 

1. Reduce Clutter

The first step in getting organized is reducing clutter. Clutter can not only cloud your mind. But it can also make it difficult to find the things you need. So, get rid of all papers, documents, emails, and physical things that you no longer need in your office.

If you’re not sure whether you'll need an item in the future, create an area where you can store those items and documents. If it’s been years since you’ve last used something or you've never used it, it’s safe to throw it away. 

2. Get Clear on Your Priorities

Secondly, understand that projects have a different level of priority. Learn which projects need to be dealt with first and which ones can wait. 

For example, if there's a deadline for a presentation, that task needs to be completed before a task that's got no deadline attached to it. Similarly, some tasks are ongoing but have a bigger impact than others. 

Learn to look beyond the due date alone and think about which tasks are more important when you look at the bigger picture. 

3. Work on Time and Energy Management

Our energy fluctuates throughout the day. That’s why important tasks as well as tasks that take a lot of mental energy are best handled when your energy is at its peak. If you want to be better at being organized, it’s important to learn to work with your energy levels. 

In the same fashion, it’s important to be aware of how much time each task takes. Use a time tracking tool to help you estimate how you spend your time so you can better organize your workday. 

Learn more about time management in this tutorial:

4. Learn to Delegate and Defer Tasks

At some point, you’re going to need help. Not all tasks need to be done by you. Learn to delegate tasks to other members of your team or your employees so you can focus on working on tasks that are in your zone of genius. 

Similarly, learn to defer tasks that don’t require your immediate attention and can be completed at any time. Review the lesson below for more ideas on how to delegate tasks:

Organize Your Workspace

Photo of a workspace, with a chair, lamp, desk, planner, water, coffee cup, glasses, watch, smartphone, and tablet visible.Photo of a workspace, with a chair, lamp, desk, planner, water, coffee cup, glasses, watch, smartphone, and tablet visible.Photo of a workspace, with a chair, lamp, desk, planner, water, coffee cup, glasses, watch, smartphone, and tablet visible.
Organize your workspace to improve your workflow. (Image source. Envato Elements)

The best place to start with getting organized is your workspace. After all, a clean and organized workspace makes it more appealing and motivates you to organize everything else. 

Here's a simple process to follow:

  1. Start by giving your desk a cleanup. Gather all the papers you've got lying around and file them into two groups: one to keep and process and one to throw away. Get rid of all the distracting or unused items as well as items that no longer work or are broken. 
  2. Then, choose an action area on your desk. This is where you’ll keep all the things you need for projects you’re currently working on. At the same time, make sure each item on your desk has a dedicated spot. 
  3. Lastly, use desk drawer organizers. These keep your drawers neat and tidy. This also makes it easier to find things that are hidden in your drawers. 

This basic process is just one of many strategies for organization. Let's look at some more.

Organize Your Computer

Once your workspace is organized, it’s time to tackle your computer. Here are a few tips to help you sort it out: 

  • Create a folder naming convention. The first thing you should do is decide how you want to organize your files. Rather, decide which folders you’ll need to create. But before you create those folders, it’s a good idea to come up with a folder naming convention. That’ll make it easier to quickly find the correct folder when needed. 
  • Organize your files. Once you’ve created and named your folders, start adding files into appropriate folders. 
  • Three layers of depth. Remember not to go more than three folders deep when sorting your files into folders and subfolders. This makes it more cumbersome to find your files.
  • Clean out common file pile up folders. At least once a week go through your desktop and download folders and clean them up. Sort all the necessary files into their respective folders, delete what you don’t need. 

Organizing the computer is important when you're learning how to improve organizational skills. Now, let's look at your email.

Organize Your Inbox

Businesswoman checking her emailBusinesswoman checking her emailBusinesswoman checking her email
If your inbox is chaos, it can reduce your productivity. (Image source: Envato Elements)

The last area where you need to get more organized is your inbox. Let’s face it: we all get a ton of email each day. More specifically, statistics say that an average person gets more than 100 emails per day, excluding spam emails. 

Granted, not all emails are important. But if you don’t create some rules and strategies for organization around your emails, pretty soon your inbox will be overrun. 

1. Organize With Folders and Labels

The easiest way to get started with your inbox is to create folders or labels that you’ll use to store all the emails you get. There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to this, it’s largely a matter of personal preference. 

For example, you might categorize your emails as newsletters, receipts, and payments. Or maybe you want to be more specific and create a folder for each client or project you’re in charge of. 

What matters more is that you create a system that works for you and that you’ll continue to use.

2. Sort With Automatic Rules or Filters

Another way to organize your inbox is to create automatic rules or filters. This can help you reduce the number of emails you see at any given moment in your inbox and minimize the overwhelm. 

For example, you could:

  • filter support emails to always remain in your inbox
  • archive payment notifications into their own folder without hitting your primary inbox
  • and instantly delete social media notifications. 

3. Process Email Only Once or Twice Per Day

Emails can be distracting. That’s why it’s a good idea to set aside a dedicated time in your day when you’ll actually deal with emails. This can be once in the morning and once in the afternoon after your lunch break. 

By doing so, you’ll avoid getting stuck responding to emails throughout the day, which gives you more time to focus on important tasks. 

4. Apply the Two Minute Rule

The final tip for organizing your inbox is to apply the two minute rule to your emails. This system is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done rule for processing a paper inbox. 

But it can be successfully applied to your email as well. If an email can be dealt with in two minutes or less, reply to it immediately. If it takes longer than that, leave it in your inbox for later. If you’re not the right person to deal with it, forward it along. And if it doesn’t need an answer at all, archive it or delete it.

Tools and Tips to Help You Get Organized

Now that you know how to organize different aspects of your professional life, let’s go over some helpful tools and tips that'll help you out. 

1. Use a Project Management Tool

No matter what your role is, you’re probably juggling more than one project at a time. That means you've got a lot of tasks on your plate. Without a solid project management system, it’s all too easy to let a few tasks fall through the cracks. 

There's no shortage of project management tools out there. Your company might already use one but if not, it’s definitely worth signing up for one. A project management tool lets you organize all your tasks and assign due dates and team members responsible for the task. 

A good project management tool also reminds you of any due dates approaching and ensure everything gets done. A few project management tools include:

Here are some more project management tools you may wish to consider:

2. Use Your Calendar or Planner

Another tip we've got for you is to use your calendar and planner to help you plan out your days. Whether digital or analog, a calendar or a planner can help remind you of important events and appointments. You can also use it to remember deadlines or jot down notes that you need to remember. 

Closeup of a calendar with colorful thumb tack pins pressed into several dates.Closeup of a calendar with colorful thumb tack pins pressed into several dates.Closeup of a calendar with colorful thumb tack pins pressed into several dates.
Using a calendar ensures everyone on your team is on the same page. (Image source: Envato Elements)

If you prefer digital calendars, Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook, and Fantastical are a few noteworthy choices. 

3. Make Use of Batching

Batching allows you to group similar tasks together and complete them at the same time. This increases your productivity because you’re not constantly switching from one task to another. 

According to research from Carnegie Mellon University, context switching has been proven to be detrimental to your ability to complete tasks. This happens because you've got to switch from not only different tasks but also different programs. 

Batching means you don’t have to switch between different tasks or programs. Instead, you use the same tools to complete a lot of similar tasks in a given timeframe. For example, you could batch a week of newsletters in one morning. Or you could schedule all your social media content every first Monday of the month. 

4. Try Time-Blocking

According to an article on the todoist, time-blocking is a common time management method. It’s based on the idea of dividing your day into time blocks for specific tasks. For example, you could divide your day into a time block for meetings, a time block for working on a specific project, and a time block for checking and replying to emails. 

The key to time blocking is that during each block, you’re only working on accomplishing a specific task or group of tasks. Once that time block is up, you move on to the next group of tasks or the next time block. 

Another crucial component of time-blocking is the weekly review. In other words, each week, you should set aside some time to review what you accomplished and what’s coming up in the week ahead. Based on that, you create your time block schedule week after week and know exactly what to work on. 

5. Create Templates for Everything

Lastly, create templates for everything and organize them according to the project you’ll need them for. This saves you time and makes it easier to create documents and other necessary assets in your work assignments. 

For example, if you’re in charge of creating presentations, consider creating a presentation template and storing it as a master copy in the folder for presentations.  

If you’re in charge of creating content for your business or company, create templates for all the graphics you’ll need. You can also create templates for blog posts and captions that include things like hashtags, calls to action, newsletter embed code, and similar. 

The Best Source For Creative Business Assets (With Unlimited Use)

As mentioned above, creating templates for everything is one of the ways to become more organized. But you don’t have to start from scratch. 

The best place to find premade templates is to sign up for Envato Elements. Envato Elements is a subscription-based marketplace with a unique offer. 

Graphic planner templates on Envato ElementsGraphic planner templates on Envato ElementsGraphic planner templates on Envato Elements
Find a variety of graphic planners and organizational templates on Envato Elements.

For a low monthly fee, you get access to thousands of creative assets with unlimited use. This includes assets such as presentation templates, stock photos, fonts, and more. 

Envato Elements gives you the most bang for your buck. Plus, with the unlimited downloads, you can experiment with different design styles for your next project. 

Envato elements unlimited downloadsEnvato elements unlimited downloadsEnvato elements unlimited downloads
Get unlimited downloads with a subscription to Envato Elements.

In other words, a flat-rate subscription to Envato Elements gives you access to every template you need to present your business in a professional manner. And if that's still not enough, you can find useful templates for individual purchase at GraphicRiver, too.

It’s Time to Get Organized 

You've just learned how to be more organized. Becoming more organized saves you time and increases your productivity. It also helps you feel more in control over your professional and personal life.

In this guide, we’ve shared several tips to help you organize your workspace, your inbox, and your computer. The only thing left to do now is to use them and get organized. 

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