AUTHOR:
Reynolds Careers

DATE:
November 23, 2021

CATEGORIES:
On the Job,
Success from the Start

READING TIME:
3 minutes

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Pro Tip for Success: Being Organized Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Means

AUTHOR:
Reynolds Careers

DATE:
November 23, 2021

CATEGORIES:
On the Job,
Success from the Start

READING TIME:
3 minutes

If you were to poll a group of young professionals on what traits they thought would quickly rocket them to the pinnacle of success, you might get answers like talent, hard work, determination, recognizing and capitalizing on growth opportunities, and so on.

To be sure, these are all critical ingredients to building a successful career in any industry. Hard work and determination will set you apart early on and keep you going long after your peers and competitors have called it a day. Connecting with the right people and learning how to be in the right place at the right time will position you for upward mobility. Talent, more often than not, goes hand-in-hand with passion, which is what brings true meaning and fulfillment to work in the first place.

But, here’s one secret to success that tends to get overlooked: underneath all the bright and shiny traits that suck up all the oxygen in the room, there’s usually a foundation of boring, mundane stuff that, as it turns out, is essential to consistent success.

A great example of this is organization, which, I admit, is about as dry of a topic as it gets. The concept of being organized is not fun, exciting, or particularly inspirational. They don’t make movies about people who cracked the code to a lifetime of success due to being organized.

And yet, time and time again, I’ve found that being organized is a common trait of all the people I’ve ever worked with who seemed to be in control of their day-to-day work flows. These are the folks who are always prepared and well-equipped to answer questions and provide insights and who seem to unlock new levels of productivity that mystify those around them.

It goes without saying that, if your workplace is functioning properly, these folks inevitably rise to the top, into roles of greater responsibility and visibility.

That long-term success starts, in part, by building on a foundation of organization.

Why Does Being Organized Make Such a Huge Difference?

Consider that being “organized” is really a combination of two things:

  • Having a handle on your day-to-day work responsibilities and all of your ongoing projects, to the extent that you know or can quickly find out the status of any particular project – the what, where, and with who. In other words, you’ve engineered your work environment so that things can’t slip through the cracks.
  • Developing and adhering to systems or procedures that help you manage your time.

In other words, real organization is about actually being in control of your work, rather than your work controlling you. It’s about being proactive rather than reactive.

Notice what I didn’t say: I did not say that being organized is the same thing as being “neat.” There’s a common misconception that people who’re organized are anal-retentive types who keep everything at their desk at right angles and color-code every bit of scrap paper within reach, while the creatives and innovators somehow thrive on disorderly chaos.

This is a fallacy – one that reveals a misunderstanding of what true organization is. Organization has little to do with how messy or clean someone’s desk is. It has everything to do with whether or not that person has established control over their daily work flows in a way that works for them, regardless of how unorthodox it might look from the outside.

That means the fruits of organization will bear out in the quality, quantity, and consistency of a person’s work, whether they’re Type A or Type B, Jeff Bezos or Walt Disney.

All of which begs the question: If organization can look different for different people, how do I know if I’m organized?

The answer is simple: Are you the master of your time at work, or do you constantly feel overwhelmed, caught off-guard, or like you’re somehow coming up short?

As far as getting organized, the best advice I can give is: Don’t overthink it. For me, a writer and content creator, organization simply means:

  1. Tracking each of my projects through every stage of its life cycle (from inception to publication) and following up on them at regular intervals;
  2. Setting out an editorial calendar at the beginning of each month to create a specific expectation of productivity and apportioning my work time accordingly;
  3. Staying as close to “inbox zero” (no unread or unaddressed emails in my inbox at the end of each work day) as possible.

Simple stuff, but it puts me in control of my work flows, prevents me from ever getting overwhelmed, and sets me up for a level of productivity that I would never achieve if I were just reacting all the time.

Take the time to get yourself organized, whatever that looks like for you. Make yourself the master of your workday, and you’ll have laid a foundation for long-term success.


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Reynolds Careers

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