People who know me, have seen my office and the way I work, probably have one of two thoughts: (1)wow, with that kind if craziness, how does she stay on top of her tasks! Or (2) okay, I’d love to get inside her head because I can’t make sense of anything she has going on.
It’s no secret that I have my own unique ways to get organized. I don’t know why, but I suspect it mostly has to do with my left-handedness. My brain is just wired differently.
So, let me explain the major keys to my success:
First, to keep my sanity, I try and go paperless as much as possible! That is, paperless on my desk. Papers multiply like bunnies! I swear I put one single paper down walk out, come back and there are 50 more! I don’t get it, I hate it, so I do my best to keep all lose papers off the desk and, even better, in the trash! If I can scan it into a file, I do. If I can get away without printing it and working off the computer, I do! The only paper I keep on my desk are two type: one is a pad of paper I bring with me to all meetings (and that’s only because I feel awkward bringing my iPad to meetings in a homeless shelter, but if it’s off site, I use the iPad). The other paper is scratch paper I keep right under my hands/keyboard that I can write odd notes while I am working and gets shredded at the end if the day (I often write client notes on it, so shredding is a must!)
Second, I keep a pencil cup with only one pair of scissors, one blue pen, one black pen, one pencil, two high liters (orange and yellow), and three sharpies (green, orange, black). Each one is used strategically for specific reasons at least once every other day. Anything else goes in the drawer. If you can’t tell, I am a color coder as well…my outlook calendar is a rainbow! This also reduces stolen pens walking from my desk; if it’s not available to steal, people don’t steal it, I don’t work in a location where people need to “borrow” my pens so it’s easy.
Third, I use my wall space VERY wisely. I have a bulletin board that is directly in front of me all day. Everything is placed in a very particular spot with clear thought and purpose behind it. I look at that bulletin board almost as much as I look at my computer screen all day. On it are two calendars…yes, I said TWO! Why? I have the current month on the left and the next month on the right…except the first week and a half of the month when I keep the past month on the left and current in the right. Why? Because I have reports that I do at the beginning of the month that I usually need to go back a few weeks but after I get those reports done there are usually many upcoming things that if I can’t see the next month at the same time they sneak up on me and I’m unprepared…reports a late, notices don’t get out to staff on time, events don’t get planned…it’s just a mess.
On that board, I also have a “work chart” that I list all the repeated tasks I do every weekday (Mondays I review case notes, Tuesdays I do a count of all the children, etc…) and each week of the month (the first week I run x report, second week I run y report, third week I review budget, etc…). That is right next to my calendars.
Above everything I have a list of all my employees and their schedules(breaks, too) along with a list of the interns and their schedules. Right next to the “holiday” schedule (what staffing looks like on school holidays and summers). I also keep our mission statement up there to make sure when I am planning activities and programming I am being true to the mission. There are other things as well, all to keep me sane!
Next to that board, I have a dry erase board where I keep notes on schedule changes such as who is covering for who on vacation or staffing changes for events. I keep notes on when certain groups are volunteering so my teens know they can come “hide” in children’s if they think it might be someone they know and notes on upcoming events/guest speakers/trips. Without this, I go completely crazy! I have been known to not know where a group of kids are even though I planned the trip when it wasn’t on the board!
So, that’s how I keep myself organized…let me tell you when we moved to the new building last summer I literally could not get myself straight until facilities hung my bulletin board…I actually felt a huge weight lifted when they left and I was able to get my papers up.