You’ve managed expectations. You’ve combined 3 separate calendars into 1. You’ve advocated for yourself, and you’ve finally convinced your colleagues that you are not psychic and that they need to clearly communicate with you. You even figured out that self-care stuff that’s making the rounds of popular buzzwords lately. You are successfully adulting in the workplace! Now, you are about to embark on yet another daunting quest – organization.
We’ve talked before about managing expectations, and that is certainly a part of being organized. And sure, the calendar is great at letting you know when meetings are, when events are, and when deadlines are, but what about the rest of it? Where are you tracking progress on your various tasks? How are you prioritizing your workload? How are you keeping track of what you still need to do, and what’s already been done?
Do you: A. Cover a wall in post it notes? B. Start up a spreadsheet? Get a planner? C. Hire someone whose only job is to hover over your shoulder to take notes and keep track of all the things for you? D. Trust that you can just keep track of it all in your head?
You can choose option A. You CAN cover a wall in post it notes. They come in a variety of colors and you can use string to link the various post it notes together, but then people become concerned and you find tin foil hats left on your desk and well-meaning suggestions that perhaps you should take some time off to rest. Or you foolishly leave the window open and a strong breeze comes through and blows your notes off the wall. Neither of these outcomes will actually help. A better use for the post it notes might be to create a picture (post it art!) or write out a message on your window for the people in the building across the way.
Option C is just awkward. Do you really want someone reading over your shoulder all day? Obviously a virtual assistant can certainly help keep track details and make sure you have the materials you need – but this is the deep level marking down all of your progress that requires an in-depth knowledge of what you are doing. At which point, your assistant is essentially doing your job.
Option D. You’ve chosen option D? You can keep track of all the things in your head? Witchcraft!
OK, clearly the most adult and professional option is B. Planners come in an array of work-appropriate styles and are often highly customizable. For instance, you can find planner pages that have graphs or charts to mark your progress on different projects. You can have different sections organized to reflect different types of projects. And honestly, few things say ‘adult and organized’ like a spreadsheet. Different projects can go on different tabs, you can insert charts and notes, and even create pivot tables. Yay for adulting?
Do not despair! Adult and professional doesn’t have to mean boring. Planners can be as fancy or as plain as you want, and you can even use some of those aforementioned colorful post it notes for added emphasis on the pages. You can indulge your inner 8-year-old and get sticker packs to use to mark off achievements in the planner, and get fancy colored pens for your notes. Creating a spreadsheet seems more ‘adult’ than getting a planner and using stickers, but just because you’re using a spreadsheet doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a bit of fun. You can have color coded tabs, use different font colors or styles, use different fill colors – spreadsheets still give you a chance to indulge your creativity while clearly being an adult about it.
The end goal is to be organized so you can successfully keep track of everything that you’re doing. As long as you succeed in managing your time and keeping up with various tasks and projects, it doesn’t matter if you are using standard-issue Times New Roman font in black on a spreadsheet, or a purple glitter pen with holographic stickers and rainbow-hued post it notes in a seasonally themed planner. Go forth and organize in the way that makes you happy.