How To: Deal with A Disorganized Boss

Disclaimer: Not my former boss's office, but I'd have taken a picture way back when if I'd know it was going to become handy later.

The other day someone visited this blog after the Google search "What happens if you work for a disorganized boss?"

Ooooooh how I feel your pain.

Once upon a time as an event planner, I worked for a significantly scattered woman. When you're planning 80 events a year on top of all of the other duties of the department I was in, disorganization is a p.r.o.b.l.e.m.

So what's a person to do?

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix. BUT...we can at least mitigate the problem to a certain extent:

With a disorganized boss, you need to be over-organized to compensate.

Is it fair?


But every job has it's good and bad points. There were times that I would work from 7a - 7p to guarantee my work got done because I knew that in the hours my boss was in (9a - 5/6p), I would be taking care of much of her work instead of my own. 

Know the saying "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine?" It's a personal favorite, and one I've had to pull out when event people were being particularly cranky.

However, in the case of working for someone who is disorganized, don't say it.

I repeat: never say this to your boss. 

You want to be known as the rockin' employee. Saying this to your boss will make you a jackwad. Don't be a jackwad. 

Following are some steps to help alleviate your situation:

Become  as unbelievably organized as you possibly can.

Sort everything like with like so it's easy to find. Get rid of anything you don't need any more. If necessary, create the space and storage you need.

If you're lucky enough to be at a wall, use that height to install shelving. Use binders for filing if you don't have enough filing space.

Do everything in your power to have as organized space as humanly possible. Not only will it help the current situation, but it is transferable to every job you'll ever have and is an amazing skill to cultivate.

So few people are truly organized. Most are organized "just enough." Go so far above and beyond "just enough" that people want to hire you to help them.

In addition to having all of your things sorted like with like, make sure everything has a logical place where it lives. Before you leave for lunch and at the end of the day, put everything back where it lives. This not only looks better and helps save your sanity, it helps others find things while you're away.

Bonus: you get a lovely desk to come back to instead of a hot mess.

Remember, we're shooting for rockstar employee status here. 

Set goals for the year, month, week, and day.

Give yourself plenty of buffer time to accommodate the potential time eaten while dealing with your boss's mess. If you don't have to clean up their mess, keep continuing with your own goals, and look like the most productive badass ever by getting projects done before deadline.

If you're able to do it in such a manner that your boss won't take offense, help them get more organized.

Make them think it's their idea. I've often used the - "It will help me do my job better if I can do this for you." Again, lets you look like a rock star. Makes them look like a rock star boss.

I have reorganized every single office I've ever worked in from receptionist to dance teacher to event planner - all under the guise of "doing it for the good of the whole" when I'm really doing it because "this mess is making me freakin' insane."

Truth is, it is also for the good of the whole and nobody has ever complained about it. More often than not they love it.

If necessary, invest some off-time hours to making your personal work set up more organized. 

Again is it fair that you have to devote some off-time to this? No. But it will save you time in the long run as well as help you lead by example.

When others see a clean, clutter-free office space, it inspires them to do the same.

Many of my former colleagues would call me in to see their desks after they'd cleaned them off. I loved inspiring them to do it, and it's a benefit to the entire department that pays off in productivity, results and recognition.

Remember, if your boss is disorganized, it's not your job to make them feel bad about it or piss them off.

It is your job to do your job to the best of your abilities and make them, yourself and your fellow colleagues look good. Be as organized as you can be to do your job to the best of your abilities.

There are many situations when if you can' t work with someone, you work around them. This is yours.

Most important of all - do it with style and panache. Remember, you don't want to be a jackwad.

Ever had to work for a disorganized boss? What helped you the most? Let us know in the comments!

Melinda Massie - A Side of Fabulous

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