From the first day of my internship, my new work inbox was inundated with emails containing everything from due dates to meetings to client projects. I welcomed this wealth of new material, eager to jump right in and get up-to-speed on everything I would be working on. I was so fixated on the information that I started to lose track of how I was organizing it all.
I am an organized and focused person, and I consider myself a good multitasker. But as someone who is new to this type of work and office environment, I suddenly felt like I was trying to keep track of a million little things all at once. I found myself waiting—nervously—for one of those little things to slip through the cracks, get forgotten, and become a big problem.
I’m sorry to say that moment did eventually come—but I’m happy it did. It forced me to take stock of how I was organizing and what I could do to better. Here are some of the things I’m figuring out along the way:
Learn what works for them
Take note of how the people you work with prefer to communicate and organize. This is tricky as it may vary from person to person and even between different tasks. Does your supervisor prefer a formal email or a quick Slack message? Do they want you to schedule a meeting with them on their Outlook calendar or just swing by their desk to discuss something? Being aware of these nuances can help streamline communication and allow you to be more effective in daily back-and-forth with your bosses and coworkers.
Learn what works for you
Call it old school, but my preferred way to stay organized will always be analog. I think very spatially, so having a physical planner that allows me to see all the tasks I have for a given week is helpful to me. I also like the act of writing things down—it’s an exercise that helps me remember things. So much of workplace communication is digital, and at first I tried to change my style to fit that. After a couple weeks of trial-and-error, I’m now sticking to the organizational method that works best for me.