Organizing for Better Work Flow

Organizing for Better Work Flow

Posted on Friday October 08, 2010 at 11:23AM

Organizing for Better Work Flow

Not everybody feels comfortable working in the same environment. For me, my desk needs to be clear of papers and notes in order for me to feel organized and on top of things. Some people can be surrounded by huge piles of paper, but still manage to find anything they need quite quickly and feel that a neat desk means that they don’t have anything to do. Whatever your preferred work space organization, it should at least work for you. If you like being surrounded by piles, but can never find anything and nothing ever gets done, perhaps you need to rethink how you approach your work, time and space.

Take a long look at how you organize your work. While it seems a little silly to take time to make work faster, it makes sense. Working efficiently allows you to move on to more enjoyable projects and relieves stress. This may take some planning. Are you doing the same things in the same order, simply because that’s how it’s always been done? Stop for a minute. Is it really the most efficient way of accomplishing your goals? If you are always reaching for something, or having to get up for a tool, wouldn’t it make sense to move those items closer? What about how your files are set up on the computer? Do you hunt for the same ones every day, or can you make the most often used files shortcuts on your desktop?

Prioritize you tasks. Some jobs must get done every day, so it makes sense to do them as soon as possible. Some jobs don’t need to be done immediately but will take a lot of time to complete. Break the job down into smaller bits and set goals for when the bits should be done. That way, rather than having looming deadlines, you will have the job completely under control, not rushed, and have less stress as a result.

Consider organizing your tasks by time of day. I’m a bit of a procrastinator. There is a project that I don’t particularly enjoy doing, so I tend to put it off until everything else has been taken care of. But the problem with that is that by the time I get to that nasty job, it’s usually mid to late afternoon, when I’m no longer at my perkiest. Not only does this mean that it takes me longer to work through the project, it also makes the project even MORE onerous. It’s like building up negative anticipation. Mentally I’m at my best Tuesdays through Fridays, from about 9:30 until 2:30. (I’m not confessing that my brain does not work after those hours, it’s just a little more sluggish.) This is the time when I should be scheduling work on that project that I dislike. My brain will be better equipped to deal with the problems that crop up, and I’ll be better motivated to work. And if I stick to that schedule, before I know it the darn thing will be done (finally!) and I can move on to projects that I enjoy more! Yeah!

Carrots help. No, not literally the orange vegetable, but some sort of treat held out in front of you. For example, if I get through an entire section of that project before 3:30, then I can work on something I really enjoy for the rest of the afternoon. This helps me to set a goal, and rewards me when I complete it. Not only is the reward motivation, but at 3:30 I should be done another section of the dreaded project and won’t have to work on it ever again (I hope!). That’s great motivation too.

Organization and work flow can be highly personal. If you are working in a shared space, or have more than one person working on a particular task at a time, it makes sense to talk about how you work, and be considerate of those you work with. You may find that a suggestion you make will make a task easier or faster for the both/group of you.

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It’s coming up on that time of year again when you need to start thinking about User Satisfaction Surveys and statistics for your Annual Reports. If you do not take daily door counts, computer use stats or in-house stats, you will need to monitor these areas for at least a week (preferably two or three to get an average per week).

Author: Northern Lights Library System

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