This is a guest post contributed by Matthew Snider. If you’d also like to contribute a post to Productivity Theory, read our writers’ guidelines here.
You’re at your desk answering calls, checking emails, or whatever else you do. Suddenly, you need that file folder and can’t find it. Everything grinds to a halt. Now, you’re wasting time hunting down that elusive file. Such is life when you don’t organize your desk.
Nothing kills productivity like a disorganized work space. This problem is more common than you think. Simply put, an organized desk makes us all more productive. An organized desk means you’re not wasting time searching for that file or that piece of paper you need.
“But I don’t have time to organize my desk!” you might retort while shuffling a mess of papers. Truth is, the time you put into organizing your desk can pay off in the long run. How? With increased productivity. There’s no denying it. A clean, organized work space not only makes it easier to find what you need more quickly, it also makes you feel more energized and promotes creativity.
1. Clear Off Everything
Yes, that’s right. Clear everything off your desk until you’re left with a flat, empty surface. That’s your starting point. Before you put anything back on it, wipe it down first to get rid of any dust or crumbs that may have accumulated. After you’ve done that, it’s time to turn your attention to your stuff.
Now, go through all your papers and supplies. Get rid of outdated papers, files, and excess office supplies. Do you really need 20 pens and 15 legal pads at your desk? C’mon! I’ll be you could just as easily function with a handful of those pens and one or two legal pads. Remember you’re trying to thin out the clutter. If you can’t bear to part with all of your precious supplies, try storing the surplus in a box or a bin somewhere else where they’re out of the way, but still accessible.
3. Revise Your Filing System
You may need to rethink your filing system. Is it still working for you? If not, change it to something that does work. Perhaps using binders for your papers might work better for you than file folders. You might have to experiment a little until you find what works for you.
Labels make life so much easier. They help you ti find what is kept where and also help you to remember where to put it back when you’re finished. A good label maker is pretty affordable and easy to come by.
5. Drawer Dividers
If your desk has drawers, dividers can help corral small items such as paper clips and rubber bands. You don’t have to spend a fortune on them either. Even a utensil tray from the dollar store will work.
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6. Get It Together
Group similar items together, such as writing implements or supplies. That makes them much easier to find than if they’re split up in different areas.
7. Keep Personal Items To A Minimum
Decorations, photos, and knick-knacks can take up precious real estate on your desk. They can also be a distraction. Limit them to one or two items.
8. Go Easy On The Post-It Notes
Those cute little squares (or other shapes)are handy for quick notes. But, they can multiply in no time. Before you know it, that reminder can get lost in a sea of colorful Post-Its. Perhaps a planner (you know, those paper things you write in?) Might be a better idea. You can keep all your To-Do lists and appointments in one place.
I know this doesn’t really fall into the organizing category, but I feel I need to mention it here. Let’s face it. It’s hard to be productive if your back or neck is hurting. Make sure your chair is comfortable. You need one with good lumbar support. It should also be the correct height. Your legs should be at a 90-degree angle and your computer screen at eye level.
10. Maintenaning Your Hard Work
Okay, now you’ve organized your desk and you’re crazy productive. However, getting organized isn’t a one-time thing. You need to maintain it. It’s easy to fall back into old habits. Just taking 10 or 15 minutes everyday to put that staple back where it belongs or that folder back in its rightful place can make a huge difference in staying organized and productive.
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