17 steps to get organized and productive at work

Discover 17 practical steps to enhance organization and productivity at work. Take control of your workflow and succeed professionally.



Craft Author: Tom Norman
Tom Norman

Picture this: two professionals, John and Mary, each with a demanding workload. John often loses track of deadlines, forgets tasks, and frantically scrambles to put out fires. His workspace is a chaotic mess, his stress levels are consistently high, and his productivity suffers as a result. It's overwhelming.

Mary, on the other hand, has a different approach. Her workspace is tidy, her tasks are neatly organized in her digital task manager, and she has clear goals and priorities. She knows exactly what needs to be done and when. Even when her workload is heavy, she seems in control and calm. Her secret? She's mastered the art of organization, which to her, is like a super-power that keeps chaos at bay and boosts her productivity significantly.

If you've ever found yourself more like John and less like Mary, you're not alone. The good news is that organization is a skill that can be learned and refined. Let's delve into why it's essential and how you can improve it.

What are the benefits of being organized?

Enhanced productivity: Put simply, productivity is the ability to do more with less time (and stress!) An organized approach to work, with clear task management and goal setting, leads to more productive days which is better for individuals and businesses alike.

Improved work-life balance: When your work is well-structured, it’s easier to separate professional responsibilities from personal time, fostering a healthier work-life balance. The benefits spill into your personal life too helping you make time for organizing and undergoing personal projects and hobbies.

Reduced stress: Knowing where everything is, having tasks prioritized, and keeping clear of clutter helps to alleviate work-related anxiety and stress.

Increased job satisfaction: A well-organized workflow often leads to better performance, which can result in increased job satisfaction. Making progress at work makes it feel more rewarding and purposeful.

Career progression: Being organized is a desirable professional trait. Those who are organized often stand out in their workplace, which can lead to opportunities for career advancement.

So, how can you become more organized at work? Below, we explore 17 key steps to getting organized.

How to get organized: 17 key steps

1. Prioritize your tasks

Prioritizing tasks helps you focus on what matters most. For instance, tasks that directly contribute to your goals should take precedence over others. By prioritizing, you ensure that your energy is spent on impactful tasks first.

2. Set clear goals

Goals provide direction and motivation. When setting goals, make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, "Increase client base by 15% this quarter."

3. Break tasks into manageable parts

Breaking down large tasks into smaller ones makes them less daunting and easier to start. For instance, instead of "Plan event," start with "Select event date," followed by "Choose venue," and so on. A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a great way of doing this.

4. Learn to say no

Overcommitting can lead to burnout. Evaluate requests for your time and learn to politely decline if they interfere with your priorities.

5. Avoid multitasking

Multitasking can lead to errors and decreased productivity. Focusing on one task at a time enhances the quality of your work and ensures thorough completion. Renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's research on 'flow' - the state of being fully immersed and enjoying a feeling of energized focus - supports this approach. His studies found that people are most creative and productive when they focus on one task at a time.

6. Delegate tasks when possible

Delegating helps lighten your workload and empowers others. Evaluate the strengths of your team members and assign tasks accordingly. Remember, delegation is about trust and letting go of the need to control everything.

7. Maintain a clean workspace

A clean workspace reduces distractions and improves focus. Regularly clean your desk, ensuring only necessary items are within reach, and file away the rest.

8. Set deadlines and stick to them

Deadlines help maintain momentum and avoid procrastination. They create a sense of urgency and ensure timely completion of tasks.

9. Keep your digital files organized

An organized digital system saves time and reduces frustration. Where applicable use folders and develop a clear naming system. For example, organize your reports by year and month.

10. Use a to-do list

This helps you keep track of progress and prioritize tasks. At the end of each day, review your tasks, mark off completed ones, and add new ones.

11. Plan your day ahead

Planning helps you start your day with focus. Every evening, outline your tasks for the following day, prioritizing them according to importance and urgency. Using a Daily Planner template can help make this a habit. 

12. Keep work and personal life separate

This maintains focus and helps create a work-life balance. Assign specific times for personal activities, keeping them separate from your work tasks.

13. Use the “two-minute rule”

If a task takes less than two minutes, do it immediately. This simple rule, from David Allen's acclaimed productivity book "Getting Things Done," prevents small tasks from piling up and becoming overwhelming.

14. Avoid procrastination

Procrastination can cause stress and result in rushed work. Tackle difficult tasks first to build momentum for the rest of your tasks. Brian Tracy, in his book "Eat That Frog”, encourages you to do the biggest, hardest or most important task first. By completing the most difficult task before moving onto other tasks, you discipline yourself not to avoid challenging tasks, and therefore you help to reduce procrastination.

15. Stay focused on one task at a time

Singular focus enhances productivity and the quality of work. Clear your workspace of other tasks to minimize distractions. Again, Csikszentmihalyi's concept of 'flow' applies here, suggesting that uninterrupted concentration leads to greater productivity and satisfaction.

16. Practice regular decluttering

Decluttering helps maintain focus and productivity. Schedule regular times to clear your workspace, both physical and digital, of unnecessary items.

17. Take regular breaks

Regular breaks prevent fatigue and maintain productivity. Techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, where you work for 25 minutes then take a five-minute break, are proven to enhance focus.

Each step you take towards better organization brings you closer to an optimized, more productive work life. Remember, the goal is to create sustainable habits that enhance your work routine, not to overhaul your process overnight.

Top tips for organizing your tasks

Organizing your tasks effectively often involves a three-step approach: prioritization, execution, and review:


Start by determining the importance and urgency of each task. Tools like the Eisenhower Matrix can be very useful here. It allows you to categorize tasks as urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. This way, you have a clear view of where to focus your energy and time.


With your tasks prioritized, it's time to get to work. To boost focus and prevent fatigue, try the Pomodoro Technique. This involves working for 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. Repeat this cycle until you finish your tasks. This approach fosters deep work and limits distractions, aligning with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of 'flow'.


Lastly, conduct regular audits of your tasks. Review your completed tasks and assess any pending ones. This helps you understand your productivity patterns, make necessary adjustments, and keep your task list updated and relevant.

How to stay organized across multiple projects

When juggling multiple projects, a structured approach is crucial. First, keep a clear overview of all the projects you're handling. Understand each project's objectives, timelines, and key tasks. This 'big picture' view allows you to prioritize and allocate your time effectively.

Regular check-ins or progress meetings with your team members can ensure everyone stays aligned and clear on their responsibilities. These meetings can serve as an opportunity to update the team on the project's status, discuss challenges, and plan for the next stages.

It's also helpful to compartmentalize tasks based on the projects. Avoid switching back and forth between projects within a short period. Instead, dedicate specific blocks of time to work on each project.


Becoming organized at work is more than just a productivity booster—it's a transformative approach that fosters clarity, reduces stress, and ultimately, contributes to your professional success. The benefits of being organized are multifaceted, enhancing not only your work-life balance but also paving the way for career progression.

Like any skill, staying organized requires practice and consistency. It's a journey rather than a destination, with every step taken bringing you closer to a more productive and successful work life. So, start implementing these tips today and experience the transformative power of organization. It's your secret weapon for achieving your professional goals.

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