How can we organize ourselves at work?

William Bauer

There’s no doubt about it, a productive workday depends on a solid foundation of staying organized. Productivity cannot be improvised, it must always be prepared in advance. In other words, starting your day without the proper planning will not allow you to have a fully productive day.  When you are disorganized, you take on a risk of wasting time deciding what your priorities are for the day. Your time is the most valuable thing you have: you can't waste precious minutes on low-priority tasks. Once you have your priorities set, you can maximize efficiency with various methods like the Pomodoro method, but let’s rewind and take a look at what you can do beforehand to organize your workday and set you on the right track.

Centralize knowledge to promote collaborative work

One of the keys to proper organization is creating a single repository or system that facilitates access and management of knowledge. It should be noted that before centralizing everyone's work, it is best to establish mutually agreed tools/processes to ensure that everyone's knowledge is shared in a formal and homogeneous way.

In addition to rationalizing and securing information, centralizing data promotes collaborative work between stakeholders. Moreover, it offers employees clarity and efficiency in their research, but also in the selection and reuse of this information. When used properly, the distribution of information within the same IT tool provides employees with better cohesion and greater responsiveness. This boosts efficiency, accelerates learning, and above all helps the company to make better decisions. In short, you can save yourself and your colleagues a lot of time by having one single source of truth.

So what are the means and tools that promote sharing of information/ideas within the company? Once the team understands how important it is to regularly upkeep your source of truth, it is time to create spaces and opportunities to make this possible.

Some organizations have an intranet system to facilitate this, but this centralization can be done through external tools. You can set up shared folders on Google Drive, Dropbox or Notion.  All of these are great for working asynchronously and collaborating in real-time.

Anticipate and prepare for meetings

Nevertheless, if technological tools are essential to centralize and disseminate information in companies, they are only one piece of the puzzle.  A straight-to-the-point, face-to-face conversation is one of the best methods for knowledge-sharing, quite possibly a word that many dread to hear: meetings.

Organizing your workday better also means controlling the distribution of information and knowledge. Whether it is to disseminate or collect information, move forward your collective work, or solve a problem, a meeting can be the most time-efficient. It is a good idea to turn meetings into a routine to anchor the sharing of information in a climate of trust and benevolence.

However, in order to retain an effective exchange of information, it is critical to prepare the topics to be discussed in advance and to define the duration of the meeting. Establishing the agenda and sharing it with participants before the meeting is absolutely essential. The agenda is the north star of the meeting: it presents the different points that will be discussed in a precise and logical way. It allows you to inform the participants and promote their input even before the meeting begins.

There are several types of meetings:

  • Institutional meetings: infrequent and generally provided for by-law (e.g. board of directors, general assembly);
  • Regular meetings: organized periodically, bringing together members of a company department (e.g. monthly sales review by sales representatives)
  • Occasional meetings: organized during an event or depending on needs (examples: "smart session" where any employee can share knowledge or expertise that he or she has and considers useful for the rest of the employees, brainstorming sessions, innovation workshops, etc.).

Set clear objectives and measurable results with the OKR method

Centralization and (good) dissemination of information are key levers to improving your organization at work. Another lever is consistently measuring the outputs of your work. Goals and objectives need to be set in order to measure results and understand how to improve them. Setting clear objectives and measurable results is indeed an effective method to challenge and motivate teams. This is what the Objectives Key Results (OKR) methodology proposes. The OKR method is a business management method based on the definition of objectives associated with the measurement of key results. The objectives indicate where the company wants to go. The key results indicate whether it has achieved this and, if so, why and how to remedy this. For example, a goal might be "get more engagement on Facebook". This goal may have two or three Key Results associated with it: "Increase the number of likes by 30%", "Increase the conversion rate by 20%", etc. Most of the time, the objectives are defined for the quarter or the year.

Visualize projects and their milestones to reduce your mental load

Finally, good work organization relies on taking a real step back. In other words, in order to be more organized, you must determine your unique long-term objective before starting any mission. This objective corresponds to specific expected results that you must have in mind. The ultimate objective must be created in a positive and precise manner. It answers the question: "What do I want to achieve?”.  Your objective must be under your control.  In other words, you can act on it and it depends on you.  Finally, it must be detailed: specify the context, the situation, and the objective in order to remove any ambiguity.

This thinking will allow you to work backward, determining the steps necessary to reach your goal. Being organized means being able to visualize each step of your work. Indeed, once you have specified your objective, you can prepare the action plan and write it down with tools like NineFive. This phase involves defining the obstacles but also the levers to overcome them. Identifying your resources is also a key step. Finally, you will be able to build the path to your final goal by serenely breaking down your objectives into big and small steps. Knowing the steps needed to reach your goals puts your mind at ease and reduces your mental load.

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