By: Darlene Lyle
We have all heard it before and really, the saying is true, in ministry, there should be a “place for everything, and everything should be in its place!” Organization is really not that hard, you just have to be methodical and always think ahead. It is much, much easier to set up a work space in the beginning rather than try to find items, sort and place them later!
Whether you are a pastor in the #UMC, administrator or a CEO, here is my top 10 list for staying organized in the workplace.

  1. Plan your workspace. Set up your desk so that it works for you. Think about where your computer, supplies, files and documents all need to live and how you move throughout the day. Are you left handed? Right handed? Make sure everything is within reach in case you need to add something to your to do list.
  1. Take a few minutes every morning to plan your day. If you think ahead, you can set yourself up for success and be effective and efficient.
  1.  Part of planning my day includes keeping a daily to do list. Use whatever system works best for you. Mark everything off as you go and reward yourself with steps or a quick break when you finish writing your sermon or preparing that presentation.
  1.  Use sticky notes for quick reminders! If I think of something that needs to be done, or if a coworker asks for help, but I am tied up, I will write it on a sticky note. That sticky note goes on my monitor and when finished with the task at hand, I will add those “sticky notes” to my “to do list.”
  1. Use Google Calendar to remind you of appointments. It is hard to make the switch from a paper calendar to an electronic calendar, (I admit I still use both), but you will be happy when you transition over to Google Calendar. My Google calendar is synced to my email and cell phone, so I get notifications to remind me when I have appointments. 
  1.  Make sure you have all the tools necessary to stay organized. There are several items you need to use in order to stay organized. On or near your desk, you should have file folders, several pens, a highlighter, a stapler and a staple remover, paper clips, a calendar and sticky notes. You may also want to keep tape, scissors and white out in your desk drawer.
  1. Have a system for projects and have a system for “stuff,” not just papers, but electronic files as well. On my laptop, I create folders for everything I do. I have one main folder for my TAC documents. In that folder there are many other folders. For example, I have a folder for grant information, one for contractors, one for AMEX reports, one for monthly reports and many more. The monthly report folder contains a folder for each year. And the yearly folders contain a folder for each month of that year.
  1. Don’t forget to save all of your work on your computer! Especially documents and spreadsheets. Click the save button often and back up all of your work on a hard drive weekly.
  1. Clean your desk. The key to organization is to not let paperwork pile up on your desk! I keep physical files for receipts, employee reports, check requests, and other forms I need to access easily in a file folder stand on my desk. I keep all client folders in a filing cabinet beside my desk. File often. The key to being able to find things quickly is putting them where they belong immediately.
  1. Don’t procrastinate. Do what needs to be done today. What can’t be done today, put back on the list for tomorrow. It will still be there!

Darlene Lyle is the Office administrator/Bookkeeper for the Beaumont Area Disaster Ministries of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Darlene and her high school sweetheart husband, William live in Beaumont with their two dogs Ellie and Chief. She enjoys driving her Jeep with the top off, a variety of outdoor activities, traveling to see her adult children/friends, and great music! She loves being in ministry with Disaster Ministries in Beaumont and of course, keeping everyone organized.

Foundations of Faith provides advice from Texas church pastors and its leadership on how to lead effectively. This blog is brought to you by the Communications Department of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To be considered as a subject matter expert, contact Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communication at smartin@smartin