We all experience our fair share of stress at work, and for many of us, it's a product of not organizing ourselves properly. Think about it: If you're constantly rushing to meet deadlines and struggling to keep track of the various projects you're working on, you can take it as a sign that your organizational skills need a bit of an overhaul. With that in mind, here are a few ways to clean up your act and save yourself some anxiety in the process.
1. Physically clear your space
It's hard to feel organized when you're surrounded by piles of paper and folders whose contents you haven't checked in months. The first step on the road to getting organized is to physically clear unnecessary items from your desk. Go through your papers, toss or shred the ones you don't need, and file any remaining documents for future reference. Along these lines, go through existing files and make sure their contents are still relevant. If not, discard what you don't plan to use again. Having a cleaner workspace will set the stage for a more organized approach to whatever it is you do.
2. Find an easy-to-use calendar
If you're juggling multiple deadlines and constantly being asked to attend meetings, keeping that information in your head and no place else is basically a recipe for disaster. A better bet? Find a useful calendar app and use it to clearly outline your schedule. Just as importantly, set reminders for key tasks and appointments so you're less likely to get caught off guard.
3. Create a to-do list -- and stick to it
Getting organized is often a matter of setting priorities and seeing them through. So, as a matter of course, start creating to-do lists that outline your pressing tasks and establish a hierarchy for tackling them. This is something you can do on a daily or weekly basis -- whichever you find works best for you. In fact, you might do both -- create a weekly list and then use it to establish sublists for each day.
4. Schedule time for emails and phone calls
When you're plugging away at your desk, it's easy to get distracted by phone calls and an overactive inbox. That's why it's smart to carve out time each week to respond to emails and voice mails. This way, you'll be more likely to keep focusing on the priorities we just talked about rather than feel the urge to stop what you're doing every time the phone rings or a new message pops up on your computer screen.
5. Turn off your personal phone
Distracting as your work phone and inbox may be, there's nothing like the perpetual ding of your personal phone to throw you off your game. Remember, a big part of being organized is learning to properly manage your time, so if you keep your cellphone tucked away on silent during the workday, you'll be less likely to get sidetracked by text messages and the like. Of course, most of us can't go the entire day without a glance at our personal phones, so if need be, schedule a couple of five-minute breaks (say, once in the morning and once in the afternoon) where you check in briefly. Outside of those windows, however, it should be business as usual.
The more organized you are at work, the more productive you're likely to be. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you'll lower your stress level and help your career simultaneously.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.