How To Organize Your Office
Have you ever tried to work effectively surrounded by chaos? I’m not talking about audible noise you can hear; I’m talking about the noise your messy desk makes when it’s cluttered with junk! Whether you work at home or in an office, keeping your office desk and surrounding office space organized is vital to the success of your career. An organized office space not only makes a good first impression, it’s also much easier to stay on top of all your work when it’s not buried under files or yesterday’s lunch container. Along with establishing a sense of structure and order, studies show people are better able to concentrate and work more efficiently in clutter-free environments. You can become much more efficient and productive by making just a few simple changes.
Organize your Office into Three Piles
So, the first thing you need to do to start your organization transformation is create three piles. “Toss”, “File” and “To-Do”. Now, you are really going to have to commit to let things go. As you are going through your desk, think about whether or not you needed something in the past year. Start with the stuff on top of your office desk. Do you need 40 pens jammed into your pen holder? What about all of those files on your desk organizer? After clearing off your office desk, go through your drawers, filing cabinets, binders and shelves. Don’t forget to go through files left behind by your predecessor; you’ll need to make space for your own filing system. Ah ha! An expense receipt!? – Put it in the to-do pile. An old report from last year’s project? File it! The highlighter that no longer highlights, the post-it note with a mystery fraction written on it, toss it! The goal is to keep your desk clutter free at all times. Your ultimate goal will be to deal with every piece of paper that crosses your desk immediately. Trash it, file it or put it in your to-do inbox.
Organize Supplies and Files
Your next step is to decide on a simple system for organizing your office supplies. Do you want your first drawer to house your pens, pencils, and other basic office supplies? If you have a sizable office desk, you can opt to get the desktop organizers to help you keep your office supplies in place. If your desk is of modest size, hide away your office supplies in a drawer. Use one of those handy drawer organizers to keep everything in its place. Next, tackle your pile of files and papers. Only keep the files that you reference frequently in the hanging file cabinet nearest you. All other archived materials can be placed in plastic bins or boxes and placed in the storage closet. Put all related items into the box, label it and store it. For instance, all items related to the 2014 Annual Meeting should go in a box labeled as such and stored. A label maker is your best friend for this task!
Create a To-Do System
Look at your to-do pile. This is where you should be thinking about efforts to organize yourself long-term. Create a system that will keep you on-task and organized effortlessly. Start with creating file folders for each project you are currently working on. Place these where they can be easily accessed nearest you in a hanging file. As you finish each project, clean out anything extraneous in the folder leaving only the important information. Place it and all related materials to the project in a box, label it and store it away. Complete the next project, rinse and repeat.
Stash The Left-overs
Now, you’ll find that even after this exercise, you’ll have a pile of stuff that you are not ready to part with, but does not belong anywhere. Save one of your bottom drawers for all of the junk that will not fit neatly into an organizer or hanging file. It’s out of sight and out of mind. It doesn’t make much noise when it’s tucked neatly away in a drawer you can close. But don’t let it get out of control!
Maintain Your Organized Office
An organized office is key to an effective work place. It seems like such a simple thing, but the fact is that when we take the time to organize our office, we become more efficient. Make a habit at the end of each day to tidy the top of your desk, file any papers, and even organize a drawer that’s gotten out of hand again. This way you won’t get stuck with a huge cleanup project every few weeks. You’ll find that your organized desk will actually give you more time to focus on the challenging tasks….like organizing your endless stream of email.