In The Digital World
In the last few years, binge-watching has risen to the top of the “favorite pastimes” list for many people. Despite ample opportunity, I have not jumped on that bandwagon because I’m not a big fan of sitting nor can I stay on the treadmill long enough to view more than one to two episodes. That all changed with the recent release of Get Organized with the Home Edit, Season 2 on Netflix. I had a weekend morning to myself and boom - first three episodes down! Rather than feeling sluggish afterward, I jumped up ready to tackle every cluttered corner of my home and longing for the time to finish the remaining five episodes.
I know not everyone gets that excited about organization, whether at home or at work. It takes time to develop systems and once they are in place, you find out you have to do stuff to maintain the system. What?! Not to mention if you live or work with other people, you have to get them on board or the system does not stay organized for very long. (Insert big sigh here).
One area that creates particular chaos at work is our system for storing files and documentation in the digital world. At first, we may either be super neat and organized and keep files in a neat folder system - or - we let files pile up in one place because we only have a few files and we can quickly find what we need. Over time, the files build up, the folders multiply, lots of different people create files and folders and suddenly, we can’t find anything. So we make new files and folders. We now have 8 versions of our go-to checklist and people are confused, frustrated and wasting time. Ugh!
Let’s talk about 5 ways to minimize chaos and stay organized in a digital world:
1. Make time:
Have you ever successfully organized your garage in 5 minute intervals? I’m guessing not. You most likely set aside all or part of a day to move the cars out, pull everything away from the walls, sort through items to toss or donate, and put things back in a neat and orderly fashion. In the same way, when creating digital systems, we need to dedicate time to complete the task. Whether it’s dedicating a day, or blocks of time over a few weeks or months, devoting time to the task moves it much closer to “done”.
2. Get to know your current state:
Ask yourself and your teammates questions about the current system. What are your pain points? Is there anything that works well (i.e., I can quickly find stuff)? What could we do differently if we had a better system? Walk through the process of using the system with sample customer or team workflows - see where the current system gets in the way of getting work done.
3. Start small and iterate:
If you build the entire system at once, you may get to the end and discover it won’t work for one or more of your processes. Then comes rework and that’s a naughty word. Try tackling the bigger buckets first. Should we organize our files by business function, then by customer OR by customer, then by business function? Come up with a couple of options and test them before moving to the next level of detail.
4. Socialize it:
Get feedback from key stakeholders before transitioning to the new system. See if you missed any key parts of the system and determine if there is resistance or support for the change. Getting people onboard with the system in advance is key to the success of the system and commitment to maintaining it long term.
5. Plan the transition:
It takes time for any new organizational system to stick. Create a plan that includes plenty of communication (aka advanced notice), training and support for moving from the old system to the new. Include tasks and responsibilities for maintenance so the new system “sticks”.
At Your Clear Next Step, our team members have years of experience and abundant joy for organization and creating effective systems. We’d love to help your team minimize chaos and develop systems that lead to better workdays.
What are your challenges to getting or staying organized? Join the conversation in the comments below or on social media!