How to Organize Your Workday and Avoid Getting Overwhelmed


These days, it feels harder than ever to stay on top of everything. Balancing your work responsibilities with those of your day-to-day life can sometimes feel impossible. Fortunately, achieving the coveted work-life balance is possible. Let’s go over some simple tips to show you how to organize your workday so you can avoid crying in the storage closet.

Perhaps you’re alright with tackling a monster of a disorganized 9-to-5. Or maybe you feel like your workload just can’t be wrangled into anything that resembles organization. Remember that reducing any amount of work-related stress is worth it.  Avoiding that awful drowning-in-work feeling has important downstream affects on your entire life. Reducing work-related stress has been show to reduce stress in other parts of your life, improve your relationships, help you get better sleep, and have better health overall. Getting (and staying) organized at work has a huge impact on everything else in your life.

At its core, the decision to organize your workday with intention will lead to a reduction in day-to-day chaos. For some, organization comes naturally. For the rest of us, here are some tips to help.

Tip #1: Designate Specific Times for Core Tasks

Most of us have consistent responsibilities that are core to your role. Carve out a substantial chunk of your day dedicated to a specific, recurring task. Then start knocking things out. Certainly, high priority tasks will occasionally override your designated timeslot. But having a specific schedule will help you get into the groove. By not jumping from one task to another, you’ll get more done and what you do get done will be of a higher quality. Multi-tasking is not your friend!

Tip #2: Keep a To-Do List

A great way to start your day (besides your caffeine of choice) is to make a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish. To take things to the next level, start the week with a list that cover the high-level items you need to finish this week. Then, in your daily task list, you can break large tasks into more manageable pieces. To-do lists are a great away to stay organized and keep track of all your responsibilities without forgetting anything.

Tip #3: Create a Priority Board

Based of your carefully crafted to-do list, create a priority board. This priority tracker is simple way to organize your workday. A small dry erase board is perfect for this! You can easily edit and adjust as you complete priority items. A priority board also keeps you from drowning in a sea of sticky notes – or worse, losing a crucial one!

Tip #4: Eat the Frog First

Once you have your priorities in order, it’s time to hop in and get them done. This is where the time-honored advice of “eating the frog” will serve you well. The idea is to start your day doing the hardest or most intimidating task with the highest priority. Once that’s out the way, the rest of your day should be smooth sailing. When you organize your workday “frog first”, you’ll also be less likely to procrastinate on it. Delaying the tough things feels good in the short-term but produces anxiety in the long run. By getting your more difficult tasks done early, it’s also more likely to be higher quality work. This is because you’re getting it done before the afternoon slump sets in.

Tip #5: Take Breaks Regularly

Burn out is a beast best left avoided. To keep it at bay, make sure to take regular breaks away from your workstation. Taking breaks will help you recharge, relax, and avoid that drowning-in-work feeling. Breaks a good for your brain! While it initially sound more productive to buckle down for 8 hours straight, that strategy has negative outcomes in the long run. Even short breaks at work can reduce and prevent stress, plus help you maintain performance throughout the day,

Bonus Tip for those with a flexible schedule:

Make the most of that flexibility! If you’re lucky enough to have the freedom of working a specific shift, figure out what time of day you’re most productive. Early bird? Rise with the sun and get that worm from 6am til 3pm. More of a night owl? Start a little later (around 11am) and work until 7pm. And the standard 9-to-5 works fine if you’re anywhere in between. This tip works especially well for remote workers. As long as it’s approved by your manager and you’re available for team meetings, you should be able to work on your own schedule. Especially if you get more done!

If your organize your workday (and keep it organized), there will be long term benefits to your health by avoiding stress. Adding this structure has the additional bonus of drastically improving your productivity. At its core, the decision to organize your workday with intention will lead to a reduction in day-to-day chaos. For some, organization comes naturally.