OrganizedBy Dawn M. Buford

I would not be where I am today if it were not for my organizational skills. 

In college, I certainly did not aspire to be the administrative professional I am today. 

I wanted to be a lawyer. 

When it was time to go law school, my parents reminded me that I had two siblings starting college soon and the days of free tuition were over.  So I decided to take a year off to work and save money for law school. Except, I never went back for law school. I became a member of the Nine-to-Five Club and I never looked back or regretted it (especially the part about paying off student loans 20 years later).

My first full-time job out of college was in a customer service role for a well-known accessories chain. I handled requests from our managers—store, district, and regional. 

There were two us handling 600 managers and sometimes 200 requests per day. 

Organize Your Tasks

I quickly learned how to prioritize and delegate to other departments. I had to become organized in how I did my job or I would have drowned. 

Because this was before Microsoft and fancy smart phone technology, I had to make lists using a pen and paper! 

I organized my tasks into three folders on my desk:

  • Today; 
  • Tomorrow; and
  • Next Week. 

This helped me to focus and be organized in my approach to getting stuff done.  I still use these folders today, except they’re now on my desktop and in Outlook.

Stay Organized with These Steps

When unburying yourself from your inbox or to-do list, it is important that you take a few minutes to get yourself organized. Take a step back, breathe and follow these steps:

  • Look at what needs to be accomplished today. Is there a deadline? Crisis management?
  • Create a ‘today” folder or list and add those things.
  • Mark it in red, as high priority, and then make a mental note that these things must be tackled now, today. Done.
  • Look at what can wait until tomorrow.  My sage, more experienced co-worker Joanne used to tell me not to exhaust myself trying to get everything done in one day, it just wasn’t possible. “It’ll still be there tomorrow,” she would tell me.  And she was right!  Put those items in your “tomorrow: folder and make them a priority, TOMORROW. Done.
  • Now look at everything that can be done later. Add those to your “next week” folder. That doesn’t mean you can forget about these tasks, they’re just simmering on the back burner. These are things that you can go back and work on when there is a lull in the action. Or delegate them to someone else. Done.

Now, you can get started on what needs to get done T-O-D-A-Y.  As things come in during the course of the day, move them to their respective folders. 

See what you did there? 

You automatically organized those tasks and are on your way to keeping yourself organized, up to date and more importantly, sane and relatively stress-free.

Organization = Better Health

Get in the habit of doing this on a daily basis and your mind will thank you.  Once you have accomplished the goal of organization, you free up your mind to take on other more enjoyable tasks, such as actually going for that walk at lunchtime. 

You become healthier, less stressed and this, in turn, triggers more positive events, including increased confidence, an improved outlook, and possibly even a promotion or better job offer. 

You are paving your own destiny because you took control and got organized.

I grew out of that customer service position after two years and went on to achieve higher goals. 

The lessons I learned there and the confidence I gained led to me to a job assisting the power brokers of a multi-billion dollar start-up and eventually, a Hollywood actress. 

My family often jokes that I already have the trip planned before it is even decided where I’m going. That, my friends, is what I call being organized.

Editor’s Note: Dawn joined the Arment Dietrich team as Gini Dietrich’s assistant a few months ago. Please give her a warm Spin Sucks crazy welcome!