Regain control of your workspace with simple ways to clear the clutter and get onto a path toward success in these five easy steps.
It’s 8am Monday morning and your arrive at your office refreshed from the weekend and ready to get to work. Stop for a moment – just a few seconds – and look around your office. What do you see? How does what you see make you feel? Are you ready to be creative, jump in, and get to work?
According to the National Association of Productivity and Organization, a messy desk and disorganized office results in distractions and lack of productivity. In fact, in a 2018 study the NAPO found that disorganization in the office can lead to a salary loss of up to 10%.
1. Purge Your Workspace
Organizing your office starts with the space you use most. Your desk. This is where the magic happens, right? It’s where you spend most of your work day, where you write and think, and where you make deals that translate into money. That money feeds your children, pays for vacations, and allows you to live the life you live.
A desktop should be tidy, orderly, and useful. We love this way of thinking about it: Your desktop is like your circles of friends. The items you use most should be within reach, think close friends. The items you use less should be nearby but not necessarily within reach. These items would be like your acquaintances. Items in your office that you don’t use at all shouldn’t be in your office, think strangers.
The desktop itself should only contain the most important things you use all of the time: computer, phone, pad of paper, pen. Something personal such as a family photo or pictures of your children/grandchildren is encouraged! Also, consider a small, live plant to bring some life to your desk.
2. Declutter the Drawers
The dreaded top desk drawer. We know. It’s perhaps the hardest part of the entire process. It’s, more than likely, a catchall space for things you use more frequently. But is it organized? When you go to get a post it note, or a paperclip, or the staple remover, are they easy to find? We’re guessing the top desk drawer is a hugely disorganized mess that only brings headaches and inefficiency.
Get this: the average worker spends one week a year searching for lost items. It’s this level of disorganization and messiness that leads to many professionals losing money and missing out on promotions.
The first step is to empty the drawer and give it a good wipe down. Starting with a clean and clear space allows you to really see what you have to work with and how to best use drawer space.
Next, get some good, easy to use, all-purpose drawer organizers. They are a game-changer and will help you keep control of tiny items that tend to get mixed up or lost, e.g., paperclips and staples. And just like your desktop organization, if you never use it, lose it.
One tip for people who physically work at a company versus those with a home office: Is there a dedicated room or common area that houses supplies like staplers, paper clips, white out, etc? If so, clear it completely from your office and use the space your employer has designed. This keeps all the little junk out of your physical and mental space.
3. Create a Filing System That Works
By organizing all of your files and documents into smart filing systems, you’ll be able to find important things faster. There’s no right or wrong to it, as long as it works for you.
IDC data shows the knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours a day, or roughly 30% of the workday, searching for information. WOW!
Think about how you categorize your work tasks and clients. Consider using different colored file folders dedicated to things like tasks, people, priorities, etc.
Many people no longer have to file hardcopy paper but if you do – consider a filing system that corresponds to the type of work that you do. How do you categorize your work? Those categories could translate into labels for your files. The idea is to make it intuitive and individualized to how you work.
4. Cleanse Your Digital Space
Your desktop isn’t the only place in your office that could use a little TLC. Your digital space, i.e., your computer, is practically begging for a healthy spring cleaning. Just like your paper filing system, it’s easy to create inbox and file folder organization with just a few clicks.
Create different folders and subfolders in your email inbox for each client or project or subject. This way when a new email comes in, you can read it and then file it where it belongs versus taking up space (and getting lost) in your inbox. A good rule of thumb, the only emails in your main inbox should be those that require action.
Have your digital files resemble your paper filing system so you don’t have to always think — ‘Where did I put that information?’
For emails and digital documents you want to archive, use a cloud-based storage provider like Google Drive or Dropbox. This also allows you to easily share files between your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.
5. Create a Fresh Space
Finally, make your space new again by rearranging your office furniture and/or updating the decor. If you can’t completely move everything because of desk placement, that’s OK. Consider small changes like guest chair placement, creating a small reading space, or adding plants. Even small housekeeping changes work well like changing out pictures, dusting the bookshelves, and adding a desktop lamp you love. Of course, don’t forget about the benefits of natural light … not only on your productivity and overall success, but also on your health!