- Cleaning out my desk drawers - I just started this job a little over a month ago. The girl who was here before me was there for 9 years and before they hired me there were two temporary people sitting at my desk so you can imagine the desk drawers were very disorganized. I like to have everything in its place to save time when I need something. Some things that are nice to have on hand are a box of staples, various size clamps, extra pens and some highlighters. Everything else should be in the supply cabinet, but having things on hand that you use regularly, makes it very convenient when you need them. Even if you are not new, the drawers get messy over time so a good clean up really helps.
- Organizing the desktop - I also like to have a clear desk with things I need in easy reach such as a stapler, staple remover, tape and some paper clips. It is always good to have a notebook and pen handy to write a quick phone message or instructions from your boss. Many times as my boss is walking out of his office to his next appointment he will remember something he wants me to do so tells me as he passes by my desk.
- Making yourself at home - I like to put some photos of my grandchildren on my desk so I can peek at those when I need a boost. It is nice to remind myself there is more to life than work. You probably have some nice photos from the holidays that you can display as well or cards from friends. Anything to put a smile on your face is good.
- On-line housecleaning - It is also very important to make yourself at home in your online files, but also to do some clean up. I was in my previous job for almost eight years so had things filed in a way that I could find them quickly. Since I am doing similar work, I wanted to set it up the same in my new job. Now when I go to get something, I can easily find it as it looks the same as what I was used to. Some things that I have found in the existing on-line folders are either gems or throw aways. I don't actually trash anything unless I am absolutely sure, but I put it in a folder which I call OLD and will put things I don't think I need in that folder and will either ask someone in the office whether I need it or just leave it there so I can go looking another time to search for things. Sometimes you don't know you need it until later when you become more familiar with your job.
- Getting into a routine. It is always nice to have a routine. The first thing I do after I log into my computer is to quickly scan my emails for anything that needs my immediate attention, but then I immediately go to my boss's email account and go through his Inbox, Sent and Deleted items. I want to see what he's been up to since I checked previously. I usually check about three times throughout the day. I set up his Inbox with various folders and move items for READING, TIME SENSITIVE and things he will want to be reminded to FOLLOW UP on. This cleans out his Inbox so all that is left are information items that he can quickly look at or respond to. My boss is off for two weeks so I want it to be nice and clean when he gets back. I then look on my to-do list for what I need to do. I either have things to do that pop up in my task reminders or they are on my desk stacked in order of what needs to be done first. A routine helps you to know where to start and keeps you focussed on what needs to be done next. This is especially important when there are only a few people in the office. I find it hard to keep myself motivated otherwise.
- Preparing for when everyone gets back - I have a meeting on the Friday after the holidays so will prepare the draft agenda and any materials so my boss can look them over when he gets in and then I will be able to quickly prepare the meeting package and send it out and then prepare the minute template.
My family all live close by so I never feel the need to take vacation days as the stat holidays are enough for me. Some people do have to travel though or just like having the consecutive time off between Christmas and New Years so it is nice for them that we are in the office so we can provide some backup for them. They will need to be sure to put an out-of-office message on in case someone calls during this time so they will know who to contact in their absence.
If you are on the skeleton staff, use this more relaxed time to get things done. It will pay off when everyone gets back and are going through their emails and trying to get organized after the break. You will be just one step ahead of the game.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. I know I am. I will be two months into my new job and settling in to how most things are done and looking forward to whatever other challenges come along.