In any office environment, skilful organisation lays the strong foundations of any working day. If you work in a secretarial or administrative role, your employers expect you to manage not just your own workload efficiently, but also be familiar with the workload of the people around you.

Even if you possess some fairly good time management skills, it is always possible to brush up on your skill-set, fine-tune some current practices, adopt new techniques or train yourself to optimise your organisational regime.

Within your job scope, you are always likely to have consistent calls on your time throughout any working day. Regular interruptions, new projects and dilemmas to solve may become the norm rather than the exception.

If you have these strong foundations plus an organised mind, you will find you can stay one step ahead rather than feel overwhelmed by workplace demands.

If you want to improve your daily organisation, here are seven powerful strategies you can use to get great results immediately:

1 Stay focused

It is important to stay focused and avoid getting derailed by a barrage of work demands. By keeping a clear mind, you can ensure that your finger stays on the pulse of essential tasks and priorities. Having a task list will help to keep you on track and avoid distractions.

2 Clear the clutter

If you manage multiple deadlines, you may find that your desk starts to disappear under the weight of outstanding projects. It can easily result in clutter and chaos.

A messy desk will make matters worse. Clear the clutter regularly, and make life easier by sorting documents into files for those urgent and forthcoming deadlines.

3 Plan your time well

Scheduling time for the important tasks is essential, so make sure your key projects have been mapped into your day. I always find it helpful to be aware of the times of the day when I’m at my most alert or productive.

It will be different for everyone. Plan ahead to use those times effectively, and assess the time required for specific jobs wisely.

4 Chunk tasks down

Procrastination can be your own worst enemy. It can strike at any time, but especially when you are feeling less than productive.

If tasks are unpleasant, difficult or overwhelming, it can help to break them down into manageable sections. This reduces the time required for completion, and doesn’t feel so overwhelming. It’s very rewarding to tick off small chunks of a bigger project.

5 Identify time-wasters

How many times do you get to the end of the morning and wonder what you have done and achieved? It’s important to identify your time-wasters so you can take steps to eliminate them.

Set up your voicemail system when you need to focus, and then schedule time to return important calls. Stay focused and keep the conversation brief. Decide on dedicated times to check e-mail and respond, rather than keep your e-mail programme open constantly.

6 Keep a time log

If you start feeling overwhelmed and there are not enough hours in the day, try keeping a time log. Note down every task you do throughout the day.

Although this may sound tedious, it can prove valuable because it will highlight where your time is being taken up, when you are most productive, the tasks that takes the longest and also the little things that drain time.

7 Anticipate challenges

Stay one step ahead of unexpected work-streams by knowing your employer’s schedule and anticipating potential problems or requests. Anticipation means you are already prepared to respond to any unexpected challenges, and it equals less pressure.

Everyone in today’s workplace is also a manager and a re-organiser, because often the best-laid plans can change in an instant.

Skilful organisation and good working habits are strong foundations that will help you to respond confidently at a moment’s notice. Having routines in place will also help you stay cool and calm, and rise to the challenges you meet, and maybe even enjoy them.


Article by Shirley Taylor, an expert in communication skills. Find out more at or e-mail