The Most Important Organizational Skills (With Examples)

By Matthew Zane - May. 30, 2021
Skills Based Articles

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No matter what industry you work in or what role you perform, organizational skills are highly sought after by employers. Being able to prioritize, plan, and effectively manage one’s time are all transferable skills that increase the efficiency of any business.

With strong organizational skills, unforeseen issues are less daunting, and plans are in place for every eventuality. While every employee has a different organizational style, some organizational skills are important across the board.

What Are Organizational Skills?

Organizational skills are all about being able to prioritize tasks, maximize efficiency, and maintain structure throughout a workday or a project’s lifespan. Discipline, cognitive flexibility, and memory are all crucial to being a strong organizer.

With strong organizational skills, deadlines are never a cause for concern; just another factor in determining which tasks get done first. Hiring managers aren’t just looking for folks who can keep their desks decluttered; they want intellectually nimble employees who can fit into the overarching organizational structure of the company.

Types of Organizational Skills

  1. Time management. Deciding how to use your time effectively is fundamental to organizational skills. Time management is all about creating and keeping realistic deadlines, proper scheduling, and discipline.

    Knowing what tasks require immediate attention and which can be delayed, and for how long, is crucial to proper time management. With strong skills in time management, you’ll never feel overwhelmed by your workload, because you know exactly which tasks have priority.

  2. Physical organization. This is probably the organizational skill that first springs to mind when one thinks about organization. Keeping your workspace free from clutter, appropriate filing/record-keeping, and managing your physical resources efficiently are all elements of physical organization.

    Knowing where to find important documents or other physical resources is essential for your workplace efficiency. Things like filing, record-keeping, and inventory are all elements of physical organization.

  3. Mental organization. It doesn’t matter if your desk is super clean if your mind is all over the place. Mental organization involves thinking things through in an orderly fashion.

    Being able to analyze what resources are required for a task, ready documentation ahead of time, and keep a big-picture strategy in mind are all important elements of mental organization. Think of mental organization as keeping your mind decluttered: concentration, focus, and memory are all prerequisites to a mentally well-organized employee.

  4. Communication. Communication skills get their own section, but being an effective communicator is all about being organized. Miscommunications are a big hurdle for efficiency and the organization of a team.

    It’s important to keep your team in the loop with your progress on a project, but it’s equally important to be a good active listener who understands what’s being asked of them and the priorities of various tasks.

  5. Delegation. A key element of good teamwork is being skilled in delegation. That means keeping a mental inventory of your teammates (and your own) strengths and weaknesses, so you know whom to task with different elements of a project.

    Delegation isn’t limited to those in managerial roles. A team that’s able to effectively plan a project together shows strong collaborative and interpersonal skills.

  6. Self-motivation. Sometimes you don’t have anyone telling you exactly how to spend your time at work. At moments like these, you must know what tasks are most in need of your time and attention.

    Taking initiative and completing tasks without supervision or assistance will earn you a reputation for self-sufficiency. With a reputation like that, you’ll notice more opportunities start to come your way.

  7. Prioritizing. An important facet of mental organization is being able to prioritize your various assignments. Being able to break down multi-step processes into their components and deciding the order to complete them shows off your problem-solving skills.

    If you can also foresee potential issues and create solutions for them ahead of time, you’re showcasing your strategic abilities.

    Prioritizing is about making the most of your time and energy, and reducing stress for you and your team throughout a project’s lifespan. It doesn’t matter if you check off three things from your to-do list before noon — if you failed to complete the most important thing on that list, you’re not prioritizing correctly.

  8. Planning. You know the old saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning is all about taking a step back from the assignment at hand and determining the most efficient means for its completion.

    This helps you and your team from getting lost in the weeds and keeping an eye on the big picture. Good planning incorporates elements of time management, delegation, mental organization, and physical organization.

  9. Collaboration. Collaborating effectively benefits everyone. It’s not just about delegating tasks appropriately (although that is part of it). Good collaboration also means knowing whom to turn to when you need help with something and being available for team members who need your help.

    If you’re stuck on a project and you waste an hour tracking down assistance, that’s an example of poor collaboration leading to an inefficient workday.

  10. Goal-setting. An element of planning is setting goals. While planning might involve digging into the minutiae of a project’s parts, goal-setting is much simpler.

    It’s about taking a realistic view of who is working on the assignment, what resources are needed for its completion, and the time each element will take. Distilling that into a deadline that aligns with your company’s objectives is what setting goals is all about. Those who regularly achieve these goals prove themselves to be well-organized individuals.

  11. Flexibility. Unforeseen issues arise all the time in business. Another expression comes to mind: “People plan, and God laughs.” Being an organized employee means doing your best to build in time for potential setbacks.

    But it also means not losing your cool when your top-notch plan starts to fall apart. Regrouping, identifying new priorities, and staying focused under pressure sets you apart from an employee who has a breakdown every time his well-thought-out plan hits a speed bump.

  12. Decision-making. If you’re a well-organized employee, you shouldn’t shy away from making decisions. You’ll already have a mental inventory of all the necessary information, the ability to distill that into a plan, and the skill to make a decision based on the larger plan and its elements.

    Being goal-oriented and keeping your workload organized will create an atmosphere where you can make decisions without sweating.

  13. Strategic planning. The big picture doesn’t get any bigger than strategic planning. When you’re planning strategically (as opposed to tactically), you’re not thinking about how best to organize your day, your week, or even for the lifespan of a given project.

    You’re thinking about corporate goals as they fit into a much larger time frame. While this may be more important for someone in a leadership role, being a good strategic planner is a nice quality to have in any role.

  14. Scheduling. In a personal sense, scheduling is important for maintaining self-discipline. Having a calendar marked with various deadlines, or a day planner that sets out goals for different chunks of the day will keep you on top of your assignments. It’s all about knowing what you can do in a given time frame.

    It’s also about scheduling meetings with relevant people well before you need to talk to them, which goes hand-in-hand with collaboration. Pair proper planning with top-notch scheduling and you’ve got a recipe for a well-organized employee.

  15. Self-care. Not exactly one you can include on aresume, but important nonetheless. Keeping your home life organized will help you feel less overwhelmed at work.

    That means getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, keeping up good hygiene, and setting aside time for relaxation. Having your personal life under control will help keep you free of distractions throughout your workday, making all of the above organizational skills that much easier to achieve.

How to Improve Your Organizational Skills

Putting in the effort to improve your organizational skills will strengthen your resume and benefit your career.

Like any soft skill, organization skills always have room for improvement. Reflect on what organizational skills you already possess and where you’re lacking. Maybe you always keep a tidy desk, but your ability to plan and collaborate effectively is weak.

Start making an effort to reach out to your teammates more regularly so that your plans are better aligned with the team as a whole. Or maybe you always know what task to prioritize, but your desk is a cluttered mess.

Invest in some organizing aids and start and/or finish your day by tidying your desk to perfection.

Whatever level of organization skill you have, doing a few things can have an immediate impact on your organizational skills:

  • Set goals for your organizational improvements (it’s your first organization project!)

  • Keep a tidy workspace

  • Make a to-do list (and stick to it)

  • Create a schedule for the next week or month and consult it regularly

  • Read books or watch videos on the best organizational practices

  • Download some organizational skill apps

  • Keep up communication with your colleagues

How to Showcase Your Organizational Skills

When you’re writing a resume and/or cover letter, the crucial question to keep in mind throughout is “how is this information relevant for the job for which I am applying?”

Read job listings and pick out keywords related to organizational skills. For example, words like schedule, collate, file, data entry, inventories, invoices, etc.

While you can include organizational skills in the soft skills section of your resume, you should also pepper the rest of your resume with evidence of this fact. Even better if that evidence is quantifiable. For example, “Implemented an employee productivity tracking system that improved efficiency by 17% among my team.”

Remember that the quickest way to prove your organizational skills is by having a well-organized resume and cover letter.

Organizational skills are vital to success at any position in any industry. Perfecting yours and showcasing them effectively while applying for jobs will go a long way in improving your odds as a candidate.

Example Resume Highlighting Organizational Skills

Let’s say you’re applying for the role of office manager at a mid-sized local company.

You notice that scheduling meetings, maintaining an inventory of office materials, and creating helpful cross-team documents are highlighted as major job responsibilities. You also see that time management, organization, and self-starter are words used to describe the ideal candidate.

Here’s a resume built to highlight the candidates organizational skills and suitability for the job in question:

Mary Fischer

Seattle, WA | (555)-555-5555 | mary.fischer@email.com | linkedin.com/in/m.fischer

Detail-oriented Office Manager with over 3 years of experience organizing office schedules, meetings, and inventories. Self-starter with a passion for improving workplace efficiency and providing support across departments.

Professional Experience

ABC Inc. | Seattle, WA
Office Manager | July 2019-Present

  • Reduced office material budget by 12% while increasing employee satisfaction w/ in-house resources by 8% by drafting Google Sheets spreadsheets to track spending and utility

  • Created meeting schedules for 40 employees, including senior executives from Marketing, Product, and Sales teams

  • Improved company-wide SOPs through interviews with employees and customers to find pain points, increasing client satisfaction rates by 9% from May-October 2020

Education

University of Washington | 2018
Bachelor’s Degree in Business

Skills

  • Microsoft Office Suite/Google Suite

  • Excel spreadsheets

  • Budgeting

  • Organization

  • Client- and employee-facing email communication

  • Trello

  • Basic HTML/Working knowledge of WordPress

Example Answers to Interview Questions About Organizational Skills

The job of proving your organizational skills doesn’t end with your resume and cover letter. Once you’re invited for an interview, you need to continue displaying excellent organizational prowess.

Most importantly, all of your email correspondences with your contact at the company should be professional and to the point. Read the information about the interview carefully so that you show up prepared with everything the hiring manager or recruiter asks you to show up with.

Of course, show up a little early for the interview. If you’re even a bit late, you’ll immediately make a bad impression as someone who doesn’t know how to manage their time properly.

Beyond that, the best thing you can do to prepare for an interview is consider common interview questions related to organization. You should also get ready for behavioral interview questions that ask you to “describe a time” or “give an example” of your past behavior in a professional situation.

The best way to answer these questions in a way that’s both comprehensive and brief is to use the STAR method. Give the situation, describe your task, discuss the action you took, and wrap your story up with a tidy result.

Let’s look at a couple of questions and answers to give a better idea of how the STAR method works to highlight your organizational skills:

  1. Tell me about a project that you planned. How did you organize the tasks?

    During my time at XYZ Inc., the sales team set out to improve the conversion rate of our outbound calls. I devised a plan whereby we’d offer a free trial to first-time customers, complete with their own customer success manager.

    I had to coordinate with the customer service team to find folks willing to teach and have a more full-time role with clients. I also got in touch with the marketing team to design a landing page explaining the offer, so that customers had multiple routes for finding out about our offer and sales reps could direct them somewhere to learn more.

    It took three weeks to get everything set up, which was a week earlier than the allotted time for the project. Outbound sales conversions rose by 12% in the next month, and an additional 18% the following month. Since then, the trial program has grown and expanded and is one of XYZ’s most powerful client onboarding tools.

  2. Give me an example of a time when you had several responsibilities on your plate at the same time.

    Working in the restaurant industry, you get used to big swings of action. One night at “La Noche,” we had a graduation party and a bachelorette celebration going down at the same time — in addition to our regular Friday night action, which was always substantial. I quickly saw that our wait staff was being overrun, so I jumped in as an auxiliary helper.

    For both parties, I handled all the drink orders and ensured that we had a second bar-trained waiter join our normal bartender. I then brought a second bussing table outside to improve our response time for the customers dining on the patio. Additionally, I rotated around and checked in on tables to make sure they were being served and were satisfied with their experience.

    Overall, it was the restaurant’s most successful night, and the average tip was well above 20%. I thrive in fast-paced environments like this where I can put my talent for organization and delegation to the test.

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Author

Matthew Zane

Matthew Zane is the lead editor of Zippia's How To Get A Job Guides. He is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler that wants to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin and BA in English from the University of Connecticut.

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