If You Broke Your Leg Today


I can’t take credit for the point of the blog today. A Supervisor I had about 20 years ago shared this idea with me, and it still resonates with me here today.

The idea is simply this, that if you broke your leg today…say here, right now; wherever you are, would your co-workers or replacement be able to make sense of things at your workstation? Often you might find yourself in the middle of some project, or perhaps multiple projects, and your notes and documents either get filed away each evening or maybe you have a pile on your desk like an overflowing ‘Inbox’. Or is your desk a massive “Inbox”!?

Most companies have directives and policies that prohibit and discourage staff from leaving confidential information in open view on a desk at the end of the day. After all, that information shouldn’t be available to the Night Cleaner or someone from a different department. If you want to make sure you don’t get a personal meeting with the boss to remind you of policies, be sure to file things away at the end of the day.

Getting organized and working in an organized way really needs to be a bit more than you knowing yourself where all your things are. Sure it might be cute or fashionable to say it’s organized chaos, and you can lay a hand on anything you need in a flash, but can your co-workers? You might find yourself away from work due to an injury, illness, emergency etc., and in a situation like one of these, others may have to retrieve documents, act on reports, get information you were responsible for in joint projects etc.  Often this information is hard to find because not every worker keeps their work organized in some standardized way.

While you file your things alphabetically, perhaps someone else files things using urgent, daily, weekly and down-the-road as their system. Others look at paperwork once and act on it, while you might handle paper again and again before delegating it to a junior or support staff to action. You may take your day planner home, while another person leaves it on their desk. And speaking of day planners, you might use abbreviations while others spell things out entirely. Would others know what your abbreviations mean?

It may be useful to share your organizational system with at least one other person in your office. If you are sick at home, you’ll appreciate NOT getting phone calls inquiring where reports are so you can recover in peace. As a Supervisor, you’ll want to know that your staff can cover for each other with only a hiccup such as adjusting the height of the chair and the position of the lumbar support.

There are many books and publications on how to get organized, and some people have made full-time jobs out of coming in to workstations and getting staff organized. If you know organization isn’t your strong suit, you might be well-advised to pay some attention to your desk, your filing system, and even your electronic organizing on the computer.

Think about your desk and filing cabinet right now. If you broke your leg today, would others be able to find things readily if sitting at your desk?

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