Whether you’re new to the office world or a veteran, it happens to everyone — your desk gets messy. Not the kind of messy that requires a light dusting and maybe a new trash liner, but the kind of messy that makes you feel like you’re wading in and out of a swamp when you sit down and get up. It can seem impossible to organize your desk.
The work life is nearly unpredictable, which is why desk junk piles up so quickly. One minute you’re taking a deep breath and sipping from the day’s first cup of coffee, and the next you’re clocking out. When do you possibly have time to clean? It’s easy to get used to working around the junk or even organizing the junk to make room for even more junk, but the truth is, you have to organize your desk sometime.
Once you get going with a few quick tips, your desk will look brand new in no time, and you’ll find you have an easier time keeping up with it. When you think about having to organize your workspace in the future, you won’t feel intimidated. You’ve just got to get started with these nine tips.
1. Do a Big Clean
Yes, this means tackling that three-foot-high stack of folders next to your phone. The most painful part of cleaning is going through what you have at the beginning, but it’s the only place to start. Flip through every paper and folder you have to decide what’s worth keeping and what’s trash. This step may take a while, but it’ll save you so much trouble in the future.
2. Sort What You Have
Once you have thrown out all your trash, organize what you have. Typically, office paperwork gets sorted chronologically. If that doesn’t work, try putting things in alphabetical order. Whatever works for you is what you should be concerned about. Color coding, alphabetizing, whatever it is, your method of organizing will help.
3. Get a Labeler
Labelers make a great deal of difference in organizing. It’s easy to label over them when you need to change the purpose of a folder, and they’re not all that expensive. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and white out by printing off some labels for what you keep at your desk.
4. Place Your Stuff by Content
Chances are your desk has drawers and maybe even a shelf or two if you’re in a traditional cubicle. Put paperwork and other files in places with similar paperwork. Leave sticky notes to mark what is where and why, then label with some hanging file folders. It may require you to put things in new places, but you’ll quickly remember where everything is because it’ll be so easy to sort through.
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5. Purchase Storage Boxes
You can buy storage boxes at any office supply retailer. They come flat, so you have to put them together, but once you do, you can hang files in them, write on the outside or even stack them under your desk.
6. Start an Archive
Don’t lose all this progress when you eventually forget just what’s in that folder in the back of your bottom drawer. Take time to log where you put all your paperwork into a digital archive, using a program like Excel. Don’t know how to use it? Don’t worry, it’s easy to figure out.
7. Buy Desk Accessories
If the space on your desk is already taken, you can’t leave stray papers there for another six months. At least, that’s the idea behind decorating your office space with some accessories. It can’t hurt to personalize.
8. Tidy up Every Day
At the end of every day — even if it means literally writing it into your calendar — take a few minutes to clean up your trash from the day. You may not make a mess on certain days, but there’s accumulating bacteria to think about, too. It all adds up, and you don’t want your desk to get buried all over again.
9. Schedule Your Cleanings
Grab your calendar and look as far ahead into the future as you can. Mark down at least three to four days to take some time to deep clean. Make that time as permanent as possible. It’s important to always get your work done first, but keeping your space clean and organized should come second.
Organizing your desk and keeping it that way is key to having a successful work life. Cleanliness comes as part of that organization, so do your best to keep your space spotless. You’ll thank yourself in the end, and your boss will, too.
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