It’s hard to de-clutter your desk when you have a lot of work to do, but that’s when a messy desk is most damaging to your productivity. There are some easy steps you can take to keep your desk organized enough for you to work smoothly.
Determine What’s Clean Enough For You And Get There Twice A Week
Everybody has their own level of “I can’t stand this mess!” Figure out what your level is and strive to get back to a workable space at the end of each Tuesday and Thursday. Every other day is a great schedule to follow when organizing your space because
1) Mondays are usually heavy work days, often loaded with meetings.
2) If your office gets organized every other day there’s a finite amount of damage that can be done before the next clean-up. Late in the day Tuesday and Thursday you’re going to need a brain break, so you might as well clean up.
3) Never, never organize your office on a Saturday. Saturday is the time for uninterrupted work, not organizing.
Avoid Too Many Containers
Do you have a pen cup, a pencil drawer, and another spot for highlighters? Consolidate. All writing utensils go in the pencil drawer. Donate the pencil cup back to the supplies cabinet.
Create Some Open Real Estate
Designate a small drawer for tools. Scissors, staplers, tape dispensers and paper fasteners can all go this drawer. If you flip over your stapler every time you reach for a file you need, you’ve got things backward. You need the file quickly; the stapler can disappear until you’ve got to use it.
Make Reference Materials Electronic
How many binders do you have that you’ve looked at in the last year? If you need the information, scan it and save it to your personal drive as a pdf. Scan and bookmark the document with any information that you need to access quickly, and dump the binders.
Prioritize Your Books
There’s plenty of reading to do on any given day. If you have multiple books in process, turn the most urgent book facing front on your bookcase and keep everything else sideways, so only the spines are visible. Now you know which book is most important for your next meeting or discussion group.
A Final Thought
If you have an office assistant or a designated office mail person, consider setting up an outbox if you don’t already have one. It can be easy to pile things at the corner of your desk with intention to deliver them at a later time, but the chance to get up and walk around may not come for some time. Ask an assistant to handle your drop-offs and help you keep your desk clear.
Office organization and time management are very personal, and what works for you may not work for others. However, once you’ve determined your basic level of tidiness and successfully reached that level, you’ll be thrilled with how much hassle you save by being organized!