None of us want to admit we’re disorganized, but the reality is that a large portion of the workforce is not nearly organized enough. P-Touch conducted a survey in 2010, demonstrating that employees looking for lost or misplaced items (only one consequence of disorganization) cost US organizations over 89 billion dollars.

Many of us got into management because we are good at seeing the big picture, identifying resources, and working with people. The downside is that either we are not naturally inclined to organize files and processes or we don’t have time to ensure that our files and schedules are neatly organized. This disorganization, whatever the cause, can result in us appearing unprofessional and unprepared to our employees, bosses, and possibly customers. The good news, is there is help and there are ways to get your work day into shape.

Some of the major reasons for disorganization for any individual include: inability to keep your appointments straight or worse, even make them; unreturned phone calls; inability to complete work; constantly busy with little results; and a general lack of professionalism. This is not a comprehensive list, but does cover some of the top issues that come from disorganization.

To prevent or control disorganization, you must first start with admitting that you could use some organization in your work life and identify what areas that need the most help.  With that information in hand, you can start researching various methods of organization.  The key is to find something that works for you and your personality (there isn’t necessarily a one size fits all).

With research in hand, take the time to set up your system. For example if your email needs a bit of management, you can organize Outlook with color coding, task lists, file structures, etc. Then stick with the system by setting a time every morning/week to review.

Another great tip is to build a task list for the following day, at the end of every day.  Not only will this give you direction for the next morning, it will help your mind from wandering to what you need to get done tomorrow during your down time. Don’t forget to cross of things as you complete them (very few things are more satisfying then crossing off a to-do item).

Final note, whatever process you decide on, stick to it and reevaluate it regularly.