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Feb 21, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Being well organized is a trait that we all think we have, however when we really see someone organized we are quick to call someone OCD. Good organizational habits are great habits to have and to adopt. If you haven’t read Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in life and Business, I highly recommend running out and getting a copy or download an online version or listen to the audiobook. It is phenomenal.

In an interview in 2016, Duhigg sat down with Justin Fox, from the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast. In this interview is an excellent quote from Duhigg.

“Well, habits are a big deal not only in our lives, because about 40% to 45% of what we do everyday sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit. But equally importantly, habits are a really big deal within companies. And we know this because in the last 10 or 15 years there’s been this real wealth of an explosion in research in looking at organizational routines or organizational habits and trying to understand how those influence how work gets done. And what we’ve learned is that a huge amount of whether a company succeeds or fails is based not on sort of the big strategic decisions that people make, but on the habits that emerge within the organization.”

We all develop organizational habits from our work environment to our car, to the house. The one thing to keep in mind is that one person’s organizational practices may not work for you and that is perfectly fine. However, keep an open mind, it is never easy to change routines, and that is ok to admit.

I am going to break it down to the basics and break down a few tips for you that I highly recommend to adopt, whether it is all of them or some of them. I am confident these will allow you to be a better you and more successful in years to come.

  1. The Workspace:
    1. Declutter, declutter, and once more declutter! One of the most natural things you can do to get organized is to declutter your workspace. Whether this is in an office environment or home office, nobody likes to see a desk full of papers scattered all over. This is the easiest way to get lost in space and fall behind. If you are the type to print a lot, then create folders that you will store job requirements, resumes, and other miscellaneous items. This will help you quickly identify those items and be able to clean up the pile of papers. Another great tip is getting simple organization pieces like a paper clip holder, sticky note holder, and a pen cup. I have seen a lot of desks that don’t have these and everything is just thrown all over. Sometimes the simple things go a long way.
  2. Email:
    1. An organized email folder will allow you to conquer the world. Well, maybe not that far, but pretty close. Below you will see an overview of my email folder. Now coming from an agency background I can’t disclose the client list, however, I will break it down for you as well as provide how you can break this down for a corporate environment. I adopted this habit in college and it is one of the first things I do when I start a new job. When you are getting started it is much easier, however take the time to get this organized and it will be worth that time spent.

For the email folder client below as you can see it breaks down the Inbox folder which I have Candidates, Clients, Google Alerts, Job Boards, Search Agents, Placements, Queen Associates (Company Folder), Voicemails, and WSJ. How I break down the folders, I barely ever have anything in my main inbox folder. This is very clean so I am tentative to any email that I get, as soon as I get it. The Candidate folder is where I store any and every email of interactions with candidates. This way I can easily search this folder when needed.

The Clients folder is where it really breaks down the organization aspect of the email client.

Clients | Departments

ABC | Operations

Manager | Manager 1

DEF | Marketing

I like this break down because some clients we work with are direct manager contact and we have several managers at that company. So this allows me to identify those managers and search those emails. In a corporate environment you may be able to break it down by Department and Managers as well. This way you can keep separate emails and when you get to work with a manager again you can quickly go back to some email and get insights into past roles you have worked. I find this to be one of the biggest organizational habits I have that help me stay successful.

My colleagues always are scrambling around trying to locate an email and I can quickly filter through my folders and locate that email they have been searching for some time. When searching an entire inbox, it takes time to filter through, however when you know exactly the organizational thought process it helps a lot.

  1. Calendar:
    • A sourcer and recruiter should live and breathe by the calendar. This is extremely helpful to cut out time for recruiters to put heads down sourcing or for sourcers to take time to do a bit more research on something. This allows you to block out time and not get lost in space. You’re able to clearly notify those around you of your availability and not feel interrupted.
  2. Candidate Tracker:
    • Most ATS systems will do this so, this step may be repetitive however it still is a good tip no matter the volume of your sourcing/recruiting efforts. I prefer to use Google Sheets so I have access to the most up to date file all the time. This way if I am out and about, and a candidate calls me I can reference that sheet on the go to confirm any status update and rate details as needed. This also allows me to track numbers and metrics which also allow me to run more customized reports if your ATS doesn’t allow you to see what you want to see.
  3. Applicant Tracking System:
    • This is a pain point across a company. If your ATS is not up to date it makes for a circus show. Documentation, documentation, and more documentation! I would rather see a candidate that has a ton of notes on it that just a few with gaps. This allows anyone of your team to see everything without having to reach out to you. The rule of thumb I use, is if I were to come across a candidate a colleague has talked to I want to be able to know everything I need to know prior to getting on that call without having to ask my colleague if they are a good fit or any other questions. If each member goes by this then efficiency will go through the roof. No more down time waiting for someone to answer a question that should already be answered in the ATS.
  4. Candidate Conversations:
    • With being organized something we can directly impact is the time spent talking to candidates. I wrote a previous article on this topic and can’t preach it enough. Watch the clock and be sure to use your time wisely. We should be able to tell within a few minutes if the candidate is a fit to the job we are working on filling. When you spend 20-25 minutes on the phone with one candidate you may miss out on to or three other conversations with other candidates per day. That quickly adds up over a year. Practice makes perfect, so hit the phones. I do follow up with candidates through email all throughout the day, and that’s where I can expand the relationship and earn their trust more which will then open up that fruitful referral network.

I would love to hear your tips on how you’re more organized throughout your day. Especially if you’re someone who works remotely. Being in an office, it is a bit easier to adopt these habits, however, if you’re remote it is easier to get sidetracked and foster bad habits.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.