• A@W Autistic Reporter

How to stay organized at work

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Being organized is an important part of your life: whether at home, studying for a course, or in a job, the ability to put things into order, and to follow plans to their conclusion, matters.

Staying organized at work is all about maintenance and relies on the very same aspects you needed to "get organized" in the first place! These are skills of self control and discipline, order and sequencing, flexibility and letting go, and attention and focus. You can remember these as the word: "SOFA".

S is for Self control

If you want to stay organized at work, you need self control. This means to be sure that you are calm and able to manage changes in yourself (emotional regulation) in response to changes in your environment. It also means you are disciplined and do not spend all day on social media when you should be working; or playing video games when you should be getting ready for bed (coz it's a work night). If this is hard for you generally, consider writing reminders to yourself, and take regular mindfulness breaks. If things still feel too much for you, remember you can always write in your journal, talk to your supervisor about the changes, or make an appointment with your doctor/ psych to discuss how these changes are affecting your emotional space.

O is for Order

If you want to stay organized at work, you need order. This means to make sure that you have created and adhere to some kind of order, structure or sequence in your job. Do you know the method of preparing documents, that the company prefers? Can you find out how an essay ought be structured correctly at your university? Might you be able to create a routine at home to manage your daily living tasks? Order and sequencing helps get things done, and it can help you stick to a plan. It also relates to how your order steps in a plan, how your prioritize and what time you allocate certain actions. Being ordered involves sitting down and thinking your way forward.

F is for Flexibility

If you want to stay organized at work, you need flexibility. This means to make sure that you do not always stick to the plan, and are welcoming of change. For many in the neurodiverse population, being asked to be flexible is a hard task. Hyperfocusing on a task or routine is great, but what if something changes? Do you meltdown, become anxious, or paralyzed with indecision? Flexibility is an active practice, that involves letting go, and allowing change to happen. A good way to think about this is to imagine a tree that is living through the seasons, through the weather changes... a tree always keeps growing, even if its been hit by a lightning storm. To be flexible is to be the tree that is hit by the storm, and to grow another way to the light. There is not only ONE way to do things. Be flexible at work (and in life), and notice how much easier things become.

A is for Attention

If you want to stay organized at work, you need attention. This means to notice the details AND the big picture. Attention is about focus and being alert. You must be aware of your environment, your specific work item, and own self-care needs. So, it's not only about your feelings and your experience in the world, but also acknowledge others (or, if you struggle to understand social cues, be aware of that and how your "being in the world" might affect others). Consider how you focus, what you choose to focus on, and how much time you give it. If you're finding it hard to focus at work, could it be that you're not sleeping enough? Need something healthier to eat? Need some time alone to de-stress? Need to re-assess what matters to you? Attention matters at work.


The key is SOFA.

#organization #goodworkhabits

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