As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for a video conference call to start. It was scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m., but it’s 10:30 a.m. and the call hasn’t happened.
I have received four e-mail messages, however, saying that the people on the call are running late and they expect the call to begin in 10 minutes. I’ve been given no further explanation, and no efforts have been made to reschedule the call.
This is a play-by-play of the thoughts going through my mind:
- Since I’m receiving e-mails, there must not be an emergency. Everyone is probably safe and okay.
- I bet the other people on the call believe that their time is more important than my time.
- It could also mean that the people on the call are completely disorganized and could really use my help, so I should be more compassionate.
- Wow, it’s now 10:45 and I’m still waiting. This call is an hour and a half late. I find this to be incredibly rude.
- If I don’t leave my office in the next two minutes I’m going to be late for my 11:00 appointment.
- I’m leaving.
It’s now 1:15, I’ve gone to my appointment, returned to my desk, and the call still hasn’t happened. There is, however, an e-mail in my inbox asking if the call can be rescheduled for 5:00 p.m. Anyone want to take bets on what time tonight the call begins? (Added later: It started at 5:18 p.m.)
Situations like this are unfortunately common practice in the business world. Disorganization flourishes in many corporate cultures. One person misses a deadline and that missed deadline is like a stone thrown into a pond where the ripples eventually reach everyone and everything in the water.
If you look back over my thoughts from when I was waiting, you’ll see that my frustration clearly builds. I went from worrying about the people’s safety to finding the delay to be extremely rude. The people involved obviously aren’t rude, they just have poor time management skills, but their lack of time management skills speaks to their work. At the very least, it says, “Be on guard when working with this company!”
In today’s economy, employees can’t afford to be disorganized. It’s no longer a matter of personality, it’s a matter of keeping one’s job and retaining or obtaining clients. If an employer is trying to decide whom to layoff and whom to keep, the most organized, profitable, and productive workers usually get to keep their jobs. Workers who consistently miss deadlines, run projects over budget, and upset clients and vendors with their inconsiderate behavior are the people who are let go. Additionally, current and potential clients won’t do business with your company if they don’t receive the product they expect on time and on budget.
If you’re worried about the level of disorganization in your work, here are a few items that may help you:
- Clear the paper clutter from your office
- Start using project management and goal systems to help organize your work load
- Invest in a watch with a timer on it to keep you on schedule
- Learn how to run efficient meetings
- Work on managing expectations for deadlines and deliverables through ongoing communication with the client and/or your manager
What additional suggestions would you add to this list? What are your favorite ways to stay organized at work?