Do you arrive at work each day and only to spend the first 30-45 minutes searching through a desk drawer for that client’s file you’ve been working on? Or, what about the phone number you jotted down on that sticky note that somehow got “un-stuck” from your PC monitor? If this sounds even remotely like what happens to you each day, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve got five tips to help you de-clutter and turn your office into an organized workspace.
- First, remove everything from your desk, wipe it down, and then only put back the items that you really need on a daily basis. If you know that something on your desk is no longer useful, this is the time to get rid of it. The only NEW items you should add to your desk at this time are an in-box (if necessary) and a good desktop organizer.
- If you had piles of papers on your desk before you cleared it off, DO NOT put them back without organizing! Sort through them, place them in the appropriate area of your desktop organizer, or throw them away if you don’t need them.
- Organize all desk drawers by placing similar office items together. You should always place your personal items in a separate drawer.
2. Go DIGITAL whenever possible.
- Eliminate excess paper by not printing e-mails or other documents that don’t have to be filed in the conventional way. Instead, create electronic files.
- Make sure your electronic files are clearly named for easy retrieval and reference. Do not overload your digital files with unnecessary documents—that will undermine your organizational goal, and you’ll end up not being able to find what you really need quickly.
- Your e-mail in-box should also have sub-folders if necessary. If you have colleagues that you regularly collaborate with, or meetings that you regularly schedule and attend, make sub-folders for them to store e-mails that you’ll need to reference frequently.
3. Label EVERYTHING.
- For those hard-copy papers you must keep, make sure that the papers are filed immediately into files that are labeled clearly.
- Label names should be clear and make quick retrieval easy.
- Make it a point to file WEEKLY—don’t let papers pile up.
4. Get in the ZONE.
- Your workspace should have specific areas—or ZONES—for everything that you do: your desk is obviously your main work area, your supply area would be your shelves and drawers, and your reference area would be your filing cabinet and binders/books.
- Always place work related to each zone in its proper place.
5. Clean up!
- At the end of each day, clean up your workspace as much as possible before you go home. It will make the next day much easier.
- Sort your mail each day, and discard what you don’t need right away.
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