How to get organized so you can be your best self at work

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By Sarah Walker, Espresso

With working at home becoming the norm for many people, now is the time to organize your work life in ways that’ll help you show up in the best way possible for your bosses. If you’re still in an office, the same tips and tricks will apply. From getting to inbox zero to setting up your space, this gallery has 20 bits of advice that’ll make this your most productive work year yet.


Find a quiet place to work

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If you want your workday to be productive—whether you’re at home or in an office—you need to find a quiet, designated area to work, somewhere where you can set up a laptop and related work gear without fear of interruption. It should have access to Wi-Fi as well as an ergonomic desk chair.


Hold office hours

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We’re creatures of habit who generally thrive when we know what to expect, so ensure you stick to a set schedule every day. Log into your laptop at the same time, and shut things down around the same hour in the afternoon. You’ll feel more organized and prepared to tackle major tasks as a result of this routine.


Don’t get distracted by non-work to-dos

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Considering how much is going on, it can be easy to get distracted from your work to-dos by life to-dos (like, for example, placing an online grocery order). But trying to focus on outside office tasks while also managing your workload is a multitasking impossibility. Set aside some time each workday to tick off some tasks on your home list, so you feel like you’ve got everything under control.


Set times to check email

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Email is a time suck, so experts suggest you set aside a few minutes each hour to check your inbox instead of leaving it open so you receive an alert whenever you get a new message.


Shut off social media

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There is no way you can focus on your day’s to-dos if you have Instagram or Facebook tabs open on your computer. Some companies even fire employees for spending too much time online during the workday. Shut down both apps until your designated lunch break.


Don’t take personal calls unless they’re an emergency

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It’s great that your mom wants to catch up, but not when that 30-minute phone call lands in the middle of your workday. Send all personal calls to voicemail until you have a chance to answer them at the end of your day or on your commute home. Ask loved ones to send you an emergency text if they need to catch your attention sooner.


Turn off phone notifications

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Do you really need to know that Sally commented on your photo of dinner last night? No, of course you don’t. And all of those notifications are just cause for distraction and disorganization. Shut off all alerts until your workday is over.


Unsubscribe from useless newsletters

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One of the easiest ways to manage your inbox is to decrease the amount of time you spend organizing or deleting unwanted notes or junk mail. If you don’t want to unsubscribe from a particular newsletter, create a folder where promotional emails can get delivered to. You can then check the box at the end of the day.


Strive for inbox zero

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People agree that creating files and folders to manage your inbox is key to increasing productivity and reducing stress. No one system will work for everyone, so try a couple before you decide on one to stick with.


Create a ritual to start and end your day

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Get into work mode every morning by doing the same few things in the same order, whether that’s checking your email or preparing a coffee. Come up with something similar that helps signal the winding down of your day, too. These steps are particularly important if you work from home. Each will prepare your brain for work and then play.


Get up and walk around every hour

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Sitting at a desk non-stop is not only bad for your body, it hinders creativity and productivity. Set an alarm for every 45 minutes then get up or step away from your desk for 15. Even a quick round of stretching will get your blood flowing.


Make your desk space feel personal

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No one wants to sit in a cubicle that lacks personality, so jazz up your space with some personal effects—photos, postcards, you name it! Studies have shown people are happier and more creative when surrounded by items that make them smile.


Figure out a to-do list that works for you

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There are so many journals and notebooks that claim to be the ultimate solution to organizing your workday, but no one brain is exactly alike. Test out a variety of systems to see how you prefer to stay on top of your to-dos. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you do.


Track your time on projects

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Do you know how much time you spend on a particular task every day? Get a better handle on where you spend your hours by taking one week to track your daily output in 15-minute increments. By the end of it, you’ll have a good gauge of how you waste time and what people/processes are a time suck.


Surround yourself with plants

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Plants are good for the air you breathe and are known to stimulate the production of mood-boosting hormones. And the happier you are, the more productive you’ll be.


Keep on top of office admin

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No one likes admin work, but it’s an office necessity for just about everyone. Tending to these tasks on an ongoing basis will make them feel less annoying and insurmountable than if you leave them all for one specific day each month.


Have regular lunch meetings

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It’s important to step away from your desk every now and then, especially for meetings. If you have some conversations that don’t require a formal setting or a laptop, organize the discussion to happen over the lunch hour. This will likely afford you some time to socialize as well as work.


Have a workplace motto

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Visualization is a powerful tool that can help you stay motivated on those days you just don’t feel like going to work. A great place to start would be to focus on a saying or job end goal that excites you. Hang the quote or an image that reminds you of the goal at your desk so it’s always top of mind.


Get dressed

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Experts believe there’s benefit to getting dressed in some kind of work uniform every day. That’s particularly true if you work from home.


Create a support network

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If you work from home, it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals and a support network who can help coach you through various kinds of work issues and scenarios. The same can be said for finding a work spouse to lean on in the office.

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