We all strive to be great at something. Organisational skills are something we should all strive to be great at.
A survey by FileMarker Inc. confirms the struggle that college students have with organisational skills. Reportedly, 47% of students feel that school did not teach them any organisational skills to do well at university. Moreover, 54% of students feel that they would have better grades if their organisational skills were better.
Thus, students enter adult life without an idea of how to work on and improve organisational skills; some don’t even know what organisational skills are.
So, What Are Organisational Skills?
Organisational skills are the mechanisms you use to remain focused on a task and to properly use your energy, mental capacity, strength, and correctly utilise physical space and physical resources that can help you concentrate.
According to Monster Canada, there are several groups of organisational skills, each of which is divided into ‘smaller skills’:
- Time management skills – observing deadlines, delegating, decision making, goal setting, etc.
- Mental organisation skills – listening skills, analysis and assessment skills, communication skills, conflict resolution, developmental planning, etc.
- Physical organisation skills – record keeping, office management, resource management, etc.
So, what techniques should you follow to improve your organisational skills?
1. Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Nearly a decade ago, Harvard Business Review posted research by the biologist Christoph Randler, who surveyed about 400 university students. Those, who started their day early, got better grades and managed to cope with tasks faster.
This research became proof of how becoming a morning person can help you improve your organisational skills in the long run.
Today, starting your day early remains one of the most effective techniques to improve your organisational skills; it helps put your mind in order. Before the whole world wakes up, you take time to yourself either to exercise, meditate, or plan your day.
Okay, the benefits of getting out of bed early are obvious. But why go to bed early? We all know what going to bed late and waking up early the next day feels like. You feel lethargic and unwilling to be energetic, whatever you are doing, not to mention that your ability to concentrate decreases. Going to bed early can increase your ability to organise yourself.
2. Keep Everything in Order
A cluttered desk is a barrier to a better organisation. And no, a messy desk isn’t a sign of genius. Rather, it reflects what’s going on inside your head, i.e. the chaos.
A report by Harvard Business Review demonstrated that our physical environments have a significant influence on our cognition, emotions, behaviour, thus, affecting our ability to make decisions.
It’s not only your physical desk. Harvard Business Review also claims that because of a cluttered desktop, information workers lose up to two hours a week searching for lost digital documents.
Keeping your physical and digital space in order is one of the most important organisational skills. When it comes to digital space, there are plenty of techniques to keep it in order, like tags and various desktop apps. However, when it comes to organising our physical space, like your work desk, we, for some reason, put it on the back burner.
An organised space is often the reflection of an organised mind, so practice organising your physical space to improve your other organisational skills as well as your cognitive abilities.
3. Befriend Technology
Technology has become essential to help us improve our skills, and organizational skills are no exception. Today, there are a lot of apps that use effective techniques to help you improve your organisational skills, for example:
- Pomodoro Timer battles the biggest enemy of the organisation – procrastination. By helping you balance the time between high cognitive activity and taking a break, the Pomodoro technique, used by this app, helps you improve your organisational skills, as it keeps your energy balanced.
- Evernote helps you create the most efficient to-do lists. Besides, it uses a system of tags to help you keep your notes organised.
- Headspace helps you keep your head organised. Organising your desk may not be enough to make you feel organised and focused if your mind is too cluttered. Three to five minutes of guided meditation have proven to be one of the best techniques to improve organisational skills and feel more centred.
Of course, if you’re more comfortable using a physical planner instead of an app, do so. But nothing stops you from joining the forces of technology and old-fashioned organisation techniques to improve your organisational skills even more.
4. Employ Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix
The best way to improve your organizational skills is to learn how to prioritise. Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix is a great way to sort tasks in terms of urgency and importance.
Prioritisation is one of the most important organisational skills. It can be found in all three groups of organisational skills mentioned at the beginning of the article.
So, how can Eisenhower’s Matrix help you improve your organisational skills?
- You focus on what’s urgent and important right away. Eisenhower’s Matrix is among the most effective techniques to boost productivity, as it draws your attention to the most high-priority tasks right away.
- After you finish the most urgent tasks, you can put aside other not urgent and not important tasks for later.
- It teaches you how to delegate. For instance, if you have urgent but less important tasks to do, you can give them to your colleagues to work on, while you concentrate on what’s more important and urgent.
Eisenhower’s Matrix gives you a clear image of the order, in which to put your tasks to manage everything in time.
Over to You
There’s no school or university crash course on how to improve your organisational skills (although you might find something on online education platforms); it’s all about the effort you put into improving these skills. You need to polish your organisational skills regularly (just like any other skill) to make them work for your benefit.
We encourage you to try out these techniques, and, of course, to share your knowledge and experience of improving your organisational skills!
Erica Sunarjo is a communications professional with more than six years of experience. In addition to writing, she is also an expert in legal translation, editing, and proofreading at The Word Point. Helping writers achieve more with their content is one of her passions, so she frequently publishes guides on writing for the web for beginners.