How messy is your desk? If your drawers will no longer shut and you haven’t seen your keyboard in months, it may be time to do something about it.
A tidy workspace can give you a feeling of control and competence, which leads to higher levels of productivity. When motivation hits, you don’t want to be searching for a space to put down your work, or fighting against piles of unread memos.
Effort you put into creating and maintaining an organised workspace now will pay off in the future. So instead of spending all your time looking for things amid mounting piles of papers, use these tips to make your desk into an epicentre of productivity that will absorb all your incoming work, and position you for success.
The first thing you need to do is to get rid of anything superlative. Empty, shred and throw away all things you haven’t used in a while, doesn’t work, or doesn’t benefit you. This includes all knick knacks and decorations or anything without an obvious purpose. While the odd keepsake can brighten up your desk, having too many could risk you becoming distracted and overwhelmed by space-stealing clutter.
Clear your desk
Spend some time removing everything from your desk, giving it a thorough clean, and only replacing the items that are essential for daily use. Now is the time to put everything in its rightful place, and make sure it stays there! Sort through your piles of papers and either file them, or dump them. It’s more than likely that you won’t need 99% of the papers that have been piling up on your desk over the last few months, so get rid. You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely, so assign discard dates to them. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded. Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.
Now that your desktop has been cleared of all the non-essentials, you can put a system in place to make sure it stays organised. Use organisers and containers to itemise everything on your desk. Keep the supplies that you use the most often within easy reach, and everything else should be stored or put away.
Organise your drawers – have one drawer for personal items, and another for storage. Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc. Little items such as paper clips and tacks can be stowed away in drawer organisers, ensuring you can get to them when you need them without pulling out every piece of paper you’ve ever owned in the process.
Although desk inboxes are increasingly being replaced by email inboxes, there should still be a clear system for dealing with the physical copies that pass through your desk on a daily basis. Have one tray for new documents, and have a second tray for opened and unresolved ones. This will ensure anything important isn’t scattered over the existing files on your desk and lost in the melee.
Cut down on your paper clutter as much as possible. This may mean cancelling unnecessary subscriptions or reducing the number of paper reports or memos. Not only is this good for your desk, but it’s good for the environment, too.
Another way around this would be to scan those documents you do need onto your computer and save it as an electronic file instead.
Take a Picture
Are there any items on your desk that are just for reference? Maybe a newspaper article or an empty cartridge that you need to remind yourself to replace? Instead of leaving these bits and pieces to gather dust, why not make a record by taking a photo of them with your smartphone instead. Smartphones follow us everywhere, and you’re more likely to have it when you need to reference the item.
If you haven’t cleared your desk for weeks, then this initial clean-up may take some time. But if you set a time aside at the end of each day to neaten up any areas that have fallen into disarray, then in the future it should only take a few moments. It also means you’ll come in to work the next day with a clean and organised workspace. And organisation = efficiency.