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Clear space, clear mind: how to keep your desk organized at work

Clear space, clear mind: how to keep your desk organized at work
Don’t let the mess at your desk accumulate over time. Organizing your workspace with these simple tips will help you be more productive and clear-headed.

How quickly can you find what you need at your desk? Is your work space streamlined and organized, or is it a cluttered mess? The average office worker wastes 6 weeks per year looking for misplaced documents. How much time do you waste searching for things you know you have, but you just can’t find? Carve out time to organize–it’s time well spent. Here’s how to get started:

Gather papers within arms reach. The papers right at your workspace are the most current, so it’s a great place to start. Go through each piece of paper, one at a time. Create a place for each and every item–even those little sticky notes need to find a place to belong.

Don’t re-pile. The clutter that’s lying around on your desk is there because the decision making process has been delayed. Putting papers into new piles will only continue the delay, so you need to force yourself to make concrete decisions about every item. Consider a good letter tray for staying organized while keeping important paperwork top of mind.

Go digital. The computer is a valuable asset when it comes to keeping your office organized. As we move ahead into the digital age, there’s less need for heavy filing. Having good systems on your computer to quickly find what you need will carry over to more organized physical space. Set up good systems for managing digital documents and email. An easy to operate scanner can cure your paper pile problem.

Do a sweeping purge. Once the immediate papers have been cleared, it’s time to move on to the rest of the office. Go through every area. Don’t just open a cabinet and say, “I need everything in here”. Take one section at a time, pull things out, determine what you need to keep and what you can toss or donate. You will be surprised at how much more will be purged when taking this approach.

Plan for the incoming. Do papers get randomly plopped on your desk? Create a system for dealing with the incoming. Whether it’s an inbox or mail sorting system, plan ahead for what you know is coming so you can stay on top of the pile-up. Look stackable letter trays to keep paper piles organized on your desk.

Place like items together. Don’t accumulate pens in four different drawers. Purchasing drawer organizers to maximize space will not only keep like items together, it will keep you aware of what you have and when supply is running low. Create “zones” so that related items are together and easy to find. Don’t forget snacks and personal items, they need to have an organized place within your desk area. Invest in a good desktop organizer.

Focus on one project at a time. We are actually 40% less productive when trying to multi-task. Work on one thing at a time and when you’re finished, put everything that relates to it away. This is the best way to keep your office clear and free of clutter.

Keeping an organized office can actually save you time in the long run. If you’re disciplined about putting things back where they belong and keeping only what you need, you’ll enjoy the clear space and clear mind benefits that good organization brings.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Café Quill for more invaluable advice including tips on how to organize your office desk that might help you get a promotion. 

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