With piles of paper taking over your desk, phones ringing non-stop, and urgent emails demanding your attention, you risk being frazzled. Productivity suffers.
Take a deep breath. It’s not as hopeless as you think it seems. Small steps and a change of perspective can help you make big leaps in productivity.
Getting the most out of your workspace can be a daunting task if you’re not sure where to start. The following tips are things I have taught my clients, and are the fundamental building blocks of long-term organizing success.
1. Assign homes.
It’s very likely you have one, and at the end of each day you go there. Treat your supplies in your workspace in the same way. If you have a stapler, decide where it will go, and return it to its home each day. You’ll know right where it is the next time you want to use it.
2. In plain sight.
Keep your office supplies in their proper place so you won’t waste time looking for them.
3. Keep in mind that not all paper is the same.
There are three types of paper: Action, Projects, and Reference.
- Action paper needs just that, action, and usually only one step.
- Projects have two or more steps, and a clearly defined end date.
- Reference is mostly likely the majority of your paper, and is most often stored in a file cabinet.
Know your paper, group them together and use big bucket categories. Use the easiest system you can think of, and then get to it!
4. Remember that you are not your neighbor.
You’re not your mother, your sister, or your impossibly neat best friend. It’s okay, and it’s not necessary to be anyone but who you are. Forcing yourself to use someone else’s system is a productivity (and creativity) killer. Use what you have and build on your strengths.
5. Don’t cross the lines.
Boundaries are crucial to increasing productivity, whether it’s a shut door, turning off distractions, or posting your hours. Guard your time fiercely and protect it from others walking all over it.
6. Don’t fall into the “Look, something shiny!” trap.
Take a stroll with a three-year-old, and you’ll notice how easy it is to get distracted. Set up your workspace to maximize your attention on the task at hand. Also, take small breaks throughout the day to lessen the chances of yearning to chase down that shiny object just out of reach.
7. Differentiate Tasks and Projects.
Task = one step, Projects = two or more tasks.
Keep them separate in your mind and in your physical space. Projects are sometimes mistaken for tasks and languish on a “to-do” list. If your task list is a little stale, take a few minutes to weed out the projects.
8. Get real.
Your life is not a magazine cover, so get real about what “organized” really is.
“Organized” = the ability to find most anything you need in 5 minutes or less.
So many of my clients started organizing efforts with good intentions. Where many of them ran into trouble was what organization “looks” like. It’s not always neat–and it does not need to be perfect. Being able to find what you need is what matters, not the package it’s in.
There are as many ways to get organized as there are people. Everyone brings something different to the table. Take these building blocks and apply your own creativity and style and watch your productivity soar!
What’s something that helps you keep your office or desk organized? Share with us in the comments below!
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- Happy Organize Your Home Office Day!