As an office manager, you have to be on top of both your own work and the output of the rest of the office. Even for the most seasoned office managers, this can be a tall order, especially during those stressful days when you seem to be putting out fires left and right. But with a few simple techniques, you’ll find those days will become less and less frequent, giving you the chance to breathe between tasks. Use these seven office management tips to stay on top of everything you need to do:
Before you organize anything else in the office, first you must organize your own space. It’s simple, but it’s powerful, especially once you’ve wrangled all your pens and paper clips and relegated papers to a neat pile or two. You’ll notice that you can find everything, be it a spreadsheet or a stapler, much easier, which will increase the time you have for getting the important things done. This goes for your desktop as well—make sure each of your folders, documents, and photos have a clearly defined home to avoid any confusion down the line.
Cleaning up your email is a bit like eating broccoli: If you’re new to it, you’ll probably loathe it at first. But then one day it becomes a little more enjoyable, and before long you find yourself craving it. Give yourself a bit of time during the day to set up your inbox for success. Use labels to easily sort messages, unsubscribe from any mass emails you might receive, and get rid of old emails that just act as clutter. Once you lay the groundwork, it’s easy to keep your inbox squeaky clean and, more importantly, efficient. You’ll never miss an important email again.
Everyone in an office environment needs reminders every once in a while, but at a certain point, they stop being helpful. A survey conducted by Udemy found that nearly 3 out of 4 workers (70 percent) admit they feel distracted while they’re working, with 16 percent reporting that they're almost always distracted.
If your desk is plastered in fluorescent sticky notes, you’ll stop seeing them and eventually lose track of what you need to do. If your phone buzzes every five minutes with a new reminder, you’ll learn to tune them out over time. The best way to get around this is to employ these tools sparingly. Use sticky notes for only the most important daily reminders or notes, then get rid of them once they’ve done their job. Set a few reminders on your phone, but relegate the rest of your long-term duties to your calendar. In moderation, they’re much harder to ignore.
The cornerstone of office manager organization in any environment is communication in all of its forms. Make sure your co-workers know how to get in touch with you, whether it’s via your newly cleaned email, a private chat on Slack, or even just chatting face-to-face at your desk. Check in with everyone individually or at a team meeting to let them know how to best reach you during the day. While you won’t always be able to help with everything they might need right away, streamlining this process will lead to more structured and better communication down the line, which can completely change the tone of a workplace.
As much as you might want to sometimes, there’s no way you can do everything in the office. But by establishing clear responsibilities, goals, and deadlines, you’ll still be able to keep tabs on each task like you’re doing them yourself. Create a master calendar of goals and share it with the entire office. Set up individual meetings to make sure everyone is on track to meet their expectations. By delegating work and making sure that everyone is doing their part, complicated tasks will only become easier to plan and accomplish.
It can seem like no two days are the same for office managers, but a huge part of office organization is learning to make your days as uniform as possible. Set aside the same time each day for certain tasks, whether it’s 15 minutes for catching up on emails, half an hour for meeting with individuals, or a few hours for ongoing projects. Eat lunch and take breaks around the same time each day. The goal is to train your brain to focus on the right thing at the right time, which will improve your time management and prepare you to conquer the work ahead of you.
This might be the hardest office management tip to master, but its benefits can completely transform the way your workplace operates. Take a hard look at each aspect of the office environment, from meetings to lunch breaks to modes of communication. Now ask yourself: What can be improved? Maybe there are five teams on a project when there could really be four, or maybe meetings are happening at an inconvenient time that interrupts workflow. Implement the change, no matter how small, and watch as your office’s output becomes more efficient and organized.
Improve your office’s workflow with these 7 easy, effective methods:
1. Organize your workspace
2. Tackle your inbox
3. Rethink reminders
4. Establish clear communication
5. Outline your expectations
6. Standardize your workday
7. Analyze the office