Organised or disorganised?


Don’t we all love those of our colleagues who constantly find themselves in a position of disorganisation? We all have them. The one’s that are always late for meetings, miss or misread emails, need to be chased for late reports or meeting notes, and always the last to update some spreadsheet or other. Surprisingly their workload itself isn’t the problem. Usually, it’s three other components of working life that create the disorganisation: Meetings, holidays, and emails.

From my perspective it doesn’t have to be this way. When a person if organised, they also increase their efficiency, and when there is a lack of efficiency this may also have a knock-on effect to competence too. As Lance-Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army used to say: “A tidy mind is a tidy behind”. And he was right. Think about it.

If I’m preaching to the converted, then I apologise. I too have been guilty of all of these, and occasionally still am if I’m honest, but generally these are the guidelines that I work with.

Usually, it’s three other components of working life that create the disorganisation: Meetings, holidays, and emails.

Meetings. Try to avoid back-to-back meetings as inevitably some will overrun, potentially throwing your planned day into chaos. Limit the number of meetings you attend in a day to no more than half your working day, so you have time to manage your existing work. Deal with any actions arising from those meetings as soon as possible to get the work off your desk. When invited to any meeting, ask yourself if you need to be there. If you don’t, decline the invite. The meeting organiser will come back to you to explain why you should attend. If the meeting organiser needs you there, they will tell you why. You are entitled to a break, so decline any meetings you have been invited to that are scheduled in the lunch period. If the other attendees of any meeting haven’t arrived within five minutes of the start of the meeting, take yourself out of the meeting and reschedule. You should always check the other person’s diary before sending out an invite, so your meeting isn’t back-to-back in their diary, or overloads their diary, or is in the lunch break.

Holidays. These come in different guises; annual leave, yours or somebody else’s, bank holidays, and celebrations. They shouldn’t be used as an excuse to delay work, especially if somebody else is relying on that work. Nor should they be used as an excuse to delay one to one meetings or annual reviews etc. Plan your work around your holidays, not the other way around. For example, if a piece of work needs to be delivered right in the middle of your two-week leave, either deliver it if possible before you take that leave (assuming you’re not waiting for somebody else to deliver their work to you) or arrange with the recipient for the earliest date for delivery when you return. The key word here is to “arrange”, not to just deliver late. Likewise, if you’re waiting for somebody lese to deliver work to you and you know they’re going on leave, arrange for that work to be delivered before they go on leave, if possible. Try to bring forward one to one meetings or annual reviews, so they take place before you go on leave.

Emails. The curse of the inbox. Plan to have time in your diary to deal with all emails received. If you don’t, they will stack up. Any that you can’t deal with straight away should be acknowledged with a timescale when they will be dealt with. Put them into a “must do” folder and action as soon as possible. Delete any emails that have no benefit to you, such as general information, or those that you have been copied into where the sender thought you might want to know. Try to clear all received emails each day, except for those that cannot be actioned that day. If you have a busy inbox, try to at least clear the morning’s receipts by the end of each day. There’s nothing worse than having an inbox that always seems to have a couple of hundred emails (or more) every day. When sending an email, always ask if that person needs to receive that email to avoid adding to their inbox unnecessarily and wasting their time. If you need a response to an important email, check that the person you are sending it to is not on leave, or not in back-to-back meetings before sending. Or if you need an answer same day, explain why. If you need to write a contentious email or response, draft it, walk away for a few minutes, return and review. Almost certainly when you return you will make some changes before sending. If you work in an office, and the person you want to email is also in the office, walk round and talk to them. And most important, always plan time each day to deal with emails.

If any of these, are you, hopefully this will give you some thoughts. If the same applies to a colleague you know, perhaps you can pass it on. It works for me, anyway.


About Author

Avatar photo

I am a highly-versatile and forward thinking management professional with a history of successful delivery across more than thirty years’ in the Financial Services Industry. Core skills include assessing, training, coaching, process design and implementation, specialising in people, processes, and procedures within a Training & Competence or Learning & Development framework. Periodic writer for T-C

Leave A Reply