If you’re looking to increase your productivity, you might think about investing in a time management course or to delegate more tasks. But while these are sound strategies, you may be better off starting right under your nose by reorganizing your desk and office space.
That’s because your work environment can majorly impact your productivity. In fact, research suggests that workplace clutter can make it harder to focus, impair learning and memory, disrupt mental processing, and cause irritability that may provoke time-consuming tensions with coworkers. In short: For most people, clutter is a major drain on productivity and overall work performance.
Luckily, the antidote to productivity-hampering clutter can be found in a few simple strategies for organizing your workspace. Whether you work in a cubicle, an executive suite, or a home office, here are six effective office organization tips that will help you ramp up your productivity.
Simple office organization ideas
Here’s a basic overview of some of the most effective office organization ideas:
- Start with an audit
- Minimize paper
- Tidy up wires and chargers
- Get label happy
- Capitalize on wall space
- Expand your desk space (without buying a bigger desk)
Let’s dive into the nitty gritty.
Start with an audit
The number one way to reduce office clutter and disorganization is to limit the number of items in your office that require being organized in the first place.
Before you rearrange anything, take a good look at every single item that’s currently present in your office. Then sort them into different piles (Donate, Keep, and Trash/Recycle typically cover most people’s needs). For each item, consider whether or not you actually use it and if it enhances your work or life in any way. Make decisions as quickly as possible; if you get stuck on an item, move onto the next one and come back to it later.
Once you pare down your office accessories, get to work finding a home for each item you chose to keep. Use drawers and organizing trays whenever possible, and avoid stowing items on your desk’s primary work surface.
One special note for home offices: Whenever possible, avoid blending household items into your office space. Maintain as much separation as possible to assist with both physical and mental organization.
Paper is one of the worst offenders when it comes to office clutter, so it’s essential to get mail, bills, magazines, and other paper products under control.
Start by shredding and/or recycling any papers that aren’t essential. Then digitize any important paper documents that can be scanned and stored as electronic files.
Next, invest in a couple of paper trays that help organize them by categories (such as “urgent,” “awaiting processing,” or “to be filed” or simply “read” and “unread”). Finally, follow these tips for getting as close to a paperless office as possible.
Tidy wires and chargers
Untangling wires can be a huge waste of time, and wires that pile up on the floor can create visual clutter that causes stress and detracts from the overall aesthetic of your workspace (plus they’re a major tripping hazard!).
Start by untangling wires first. Then, prevent future tangles by holding together excess wire with binder clips. (Simply thread the wire or wires through the open space in the clip.)
Next, determine appropriate storage solutions. Labeled, binder-clipped chargers should all go in the same place (and they should be put back in that spot after each use). Wires that need to stay out should be kept off the floor; secure them to the underside of your desk.
Get label happy
Sure, labels may seem pretty Type A—but have you ever met a Type A person with a messy office space? Take a page from the organizational pros’ playbook and go to town labeling office items, from bookshelves to cabinet shelving, chargers, wires, paper organizers, and so on. Then, put away items in the appropriate place—every single time.
Capitalize on wall space
When you use your wall for extra storage space, it’s like gaining a new room. Free up space on your desk and floor by transferring as many items as possible to the wall. Here are some tips:
- Use a pegboard to store frequently used office accessories such as scissors, tape, and so on.
- Up the ante with hanging storage bins, which should provide space for everything from staples to rubber bands, thumb tacks, extra writing utensils, etc.
- Use a dry-erase board to brainstorm ideas or keep a running to-do list (and do away with the desktop notepad).
- Invest in a hanging wall calendar instead of placing one on your desk.
- Use a corkboard to stash documents that require your attention.
- Install coat hangers to keep jackets and sweaters off office chairs.
Expand your desk space
No matter the size of your desk, you can increase the amount of desk space available to you with a few simple tweaks. For example:
- Consider placing a rolling cart beside your desk to hold planners, frequently accessed paper files, notepads, and more. This way you won’t need to find a home for these items on top of your desk.
- Ditch desktop lamps and opt for a floor lamp or overhead lighting.
- Elevate your laptop or desktop monitor with a small desktop shelf. Not only will this provide you with storage space underneath the shelf, but it’s also more ergonomic for your neck.
- If you’re short on drawer space, consider installing an undershelf basket or other undershelf storage option.
Once you implement these work or home office organization ideas and get your workspace in order, the next challenge is to keep it that way. One of the best strategies for sustaining an organized office is to deal with papers and other items as they come in. Don’t let new office supplies or paperwork pile up; instead, spend a few minutes organizing now to spare yourself from hours of clean up down the road.