Perhaps one of the most unproductive events of the work day is the time spent looking for stuff. We’ve all been there, done that! Documents, paperwork, and even writing tools are not always there right when you need them.
On average we spend 12 days worth of time “looking for something” each year (according to the National Association of Professional Organizers). Can you imagine if you could get that time back? What would you do with an extra 12 days every year?
Time is valuable, so the last thing you want to be doing is wasting it by searching for something that should have been ready and waiting for you in the right place. This means that it’s time to organize your workspace – costing only a little bit of your time now to save valuable time in the future.
At the office
The desk is one of the most common places that becomes cluttered. Pens are left around and forgotten, often never making it back to their correct home. Piles of new paperwork mixed in with the old. Having to rummage around to find what you need can slow down your present productivity and even pull your much needed attention away when you’re trying to focus.
The first thing you need to do is pull everything out of your desk drawers so you can see what you have. This will give you the opportunity to examine exactly what you have… and even what you don’t have.
This could take several sessions so don’t panic that you have to do this all at once.
Getting organized isn’t only about sorting, but also analyzing what you need and what shouldn’t be there. Is there too much of one thing? Perhaps a few items that aren’t in the right place? This is your chance to eliminate what you don’t need. Redistribute your surplus items to a new home where they won’t cause clutter and confusion.
A basic question to ask: Am I a filer or a piler?
A clean desk doesn’t mean that you’re organized. For all of you “pilers”, breathe a sigh of relief. Piles are only files on their side! Many times, you can find things in your “piles” even more quickly than someone can forage through their files.
The most important part of preventing office clutter – your overall ability to avoid “putting it here for now.” Create one gathering point to be your sorting area and schedule time either daily or weekly to return or place items in their proper “next step/stage area.”
For the computer
The computer desktop is one of the most cluttered places on the computer. Shortcuts and icons may litter your screen; some important, while others are just distracting or cluttering. Put the icons up that you actually use for specific purposes together in one area. Have your printing, devices, and exterior tools in one area, shortcuts to projects in another, and miscellaneous in another.
Get rid of shortcuts to documents or programs that may not even reside on the computer anymore, so be sure to eliminate these so you aren’t browsing the screen and wondering what they might be.
Because computers are a multi-tool, offering both work and entertainment, consider eliminating your entertainment icons from view. You can sign onto different desktop names for different reasons. Each username can have a unique desktop arrangement, so consider doing this to separate projects, work, and entertainment.
The next part targets your files, documents, pictures, videos, and other stored data on your computer, which can become cluttered as well. There’s plenty of space on a computer to store information, but that information may be outdated or useless. One of the biggest problems is allowing that data to pile up or even become filed within another file (this can be very irritating when searching for documents). Files inside of other files can make it difficult to find data, especially if one has nothing to do with the other.
1. Find a standard way to label things such as: Name, Date (use the same date format for each), Version of Item.
This is important! Names and titles can be forgotten, so a date helps to keep track of the file’s level of importance to help associate the data with relevance. Be sure that as you continue to create new files and documents, you use a date to keep things organized.
Remember, to do this for you flash drives, too. Once you’ve cleaned them up, be sure to note what is on them and place them in a designated spot.
Are you ready to get organized?