I’ve been getting a lot of questions from Penelopes asking me how I handle certain organizational dilemmas. (Though, I gotta say, I’m not a professional organizer, I just have my own way of doing things, so, fair warning.) Any time I get the same question several times, I think it’s time to make a post of it. That’s the case here.
The most recent question comes from Zoe. She’s a Penelope with a problem. Here’s what she says:
I have a boss who is not organized but expects everyone else to be. She likes paper, and wants binders for everything. She also likes to keep all her e-mail. I’m responsible for reading all of her e-mail and printing everything that has a date or needs action. I have to give it to her and then keep a copy for myself to follow-up with her.
I put all of her e-mail in a red folder so she can see them, but at times she still doesn’t act upon them. This is further complicated by the fact that she only gives me the ability to read but not to forward or reply to her e-mail. She also expects me to forward e-mails that she receives but I have to copy and paste them into my e-mail system to send them out. It’s so inefficient!
Also, when she’s in the office she takes all of her stuff once she has reviewed it and brings it to me to act upon. Then, when something else pops into her mind, she calls me or “pings” me on the computer to state a task she’d like me to do. So a lot of times I can’t finish one task before I get another request from her.
On top of all this, I still have my other daily assignments – reports, my own e-mail and other processes. I’m drowning.
I need some guidance on the best way to organize all of this and make sure I’m being as efficient as possible. I like to be the best. What can I do to get more organized?
And here’s my answer:
You may not like this answer. But, the truth is, you don’t have an organization problem. You have a boss problem.
I could placate you with suggestions of new “systems” and links to more binders and folders, but as long as your boss insists on such inefficient, time-wasting, redundant processes, you’re not going to feel organized. Because organization isn’t about folders and binders, it’s about doing things quickly and well so you can move onto other tasks.
My suggestion is that you take the time to outline how you think your boss’ email system could work better and more efficiently. Then make a list of the additional tasks you could be getting done if she allowed you to adopt the new system. Share with her how much more effective you’d feel if things worked in a way that made more sense.
I’m a boss. I know if my staff came to me with evidence that doing something a different way would make us more productive and profitable, I’d have a hard time ignoring it. Let’s hope your boss feels the same.
What do YOU think, Penelopes? What would you do in her place?