Managing a busy Customer Service center can be a difficult task – I’m pulled in multiple directions throughout the day. In the mornings, I tend to focus on getting much of my reporting done and out of the way – but even then there are constant interruptions. From seemingly small questions, that quickly become full-scale investigations taking hours to resolve to questions from the senior management team asking about specific contracts or employee information.
It is one thing to organize your day, quite another to stick to it.
But why would you want to organize yourself? I used to think that it’s easier for me to find that important piece of paper because the chaos around my work area was “organized” – is that ever a wrong assumption. There is no such thing as organized chaos – that’s an oxymoron.
By staying organized you know instantly where everything is and provided you stick to it items are also put back in the same spot so that you remain organized. For example, I deal with multiple contractors and each sign a contract in order to provide services. All contracts are filed alphabetically. If Accounting or a Senior Manager wants to review a contract, they know exactly where its kept — if I’m away, they can come into the office take the binder knowing that what they need will be there. No guessing.
I could easily put them into folders – but that really doesn’t work. Most people will not go through a file cabinet as it’s usually perceived as “private” – but a binder is something different, it just begs “open me”. It’s also easier to keep that binder updated and when you need to refer back to a contract, easy to pull, review and put back in its place.
I keep my notes as organized as I can – I have one notebook for day-to-day incidents in my CS department, and another for Field Operations. I keep a third for all HR related issues (such as sick days, time-off requests, lates etc.,). By keeping these topic organized, I’m better able to refer to issues if the need arises. I submit weekly reports for payroll – having the e-mails certainly helps, but having the notes is also a tremendous benefit since the notes will usually include comments from a conversation I may have had with that individual.
For example – I may OK a day off via e-mail, but a week later when I submit my payroll changes I’m stuck wondering why I did OK that since the e-mail may not give the reason. Go back to my notes – and there it is, the individual needed a day-off for a doctors appointment so it’s a paid-day, not a non-paid day-off. I’ve saved myself some headaches by going back and asking why they took the day off, I submit my payroll changes on-time and all the record keeping is up-to-date should be ever get audited or should that individual dispute the change to payroll.
By staying organized and mapping out what needs to be done, you’re building a process — however it’s a dynamic process since events change and your priorities are reorganized whether you like it or not.
Another important aspect of organization is that you’ll quickly find the tasks that are repetetive and in doing so, find ways to automate them or pass those tasks onto members of your team that you know are reliable and will get the job done to your standards.
Staying organized helps in other ways - consider the amount of time and money you save. Consider this – suppose I did not file my contracts but left them in huge piles around my office. VP of Sales comes in and wants to look at the contract for XYZ for the last 3-years.
I start looking. First in the pile of papers. Voila – I found the current contract, but they want to see an older version. Keep digging. Not in the pile. Go over my desk. Not there. Search the file cabinet. Not there. Check through some files, found another copy, but its a much older version. Wait… I threw away some stuff for recycling last week, was it in there?
I’ll spend hours (which equals to money AND time) trying to track this down. If I can’t find it, I look like a total idiot in front of the VP and THEY look like idiots in front of whomever wanted that information. Career limiting move. If its your personal business, then you might have also harmed your business by not taking care of important documents.
Suppose I only spend 1 or 2 hours looking for that contract – how much “real time” have I wasted? In two hours perhaps I could have taken care of a half-days worth of work, so by wasting 2-hours I’ve really thrown away 4-hours of profitable and constructive work. Money issues aside, that 2-hours will never be able to be reclaimed. They are gone forever.
By keeping organized, you will find more hours in your day. You will boost your productivity, and at the end of the day you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve accomplished what needs to be done for that day. By staying organize in the workplace you keep a professional image amongst your staff and more importantly amongst your superiors (whether you report to them directly, or not).
You can stay organized in many ways – from how I’ve described placing contracts in binders (or any important papers) to creating lists, prioritizing activities and setting goals. Though the task of creating lists, prioritizing activities and setting goals are posts in themselves, by staying organized using these techniques you’ll find that you have more hours in the day than you know what to do!