Everyone can benefit from better organization in the workplace. Regardless of what you do for a living, having a mess on your desk does not send a positive message about you or the quality of your work. Here is how to handle the task in no time.
The goal is to have a clean workspace with the basic things you will need, such as a telephone, computer, office supplies, a calendar, and the work in progress. The first step in de-cluttering your desk is to break items into basic categories to see what you are working with. A quick idea is to pile all papers together on one side and supplies and miscellaneous items on the other. Disinfect the surfaces as you move things out of the way.
I suggest starting with the paperwork to get the most time-consuming part over with. A common cause of chaos on a desktop is the mass amount of paperwork that comes into our possession over time and continuously piles up. Grab a garbage and a recycling can and start sorting the papers into different categories.
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Some will need to stay out because they require action (to do, to read), others can be filed if you will need them later, others can be passed on to another person in the office, and the rest can be recycled or shredded. Try using a Post-It to label each category for speedier sorting.
As you look through the papers, read enough so that you see what it is about and decide which label it goes under. Refrain from stopping to read the entire document or getting distracted by what it says. Toss anything that you no longer need or could research online if necessary. Nowadays, you can also limit the amount of papers you keep by storing information digitally.
Consider scanning items that you may want to refer back to and throwing away the hard copy or placing it in a box out of the way. A vast amount of documents can be organized into folders on your computer or stored on web-based file-hosting services such as iCloud or Dropbox. If you save certain papers solely as a record of your work or a memento of your professional success, create a separate file for each to keep them together.
When it comes to information from books, magazines or newspapers, you can scan, photocopy or clip only the sections that you want to save. Next, take the labeled piles and put them into their new homes. Try to have a file drawer, cabinet or crate where you can easily reach items when seated at the desk. There are numerous resources online and in print to help you create an effective filing system that works for you.
Barbara Hemphill's “Taming the Paper Tiger” series of books are very well known in the organizing industry. For active files, consider a desktop divider that can hold a few at a time, such as a magazine holder or an accordion file. If you prefer to pile papers, have stackable paper trays or a mail sorter with different cubbies so that you can keep them in categories.
Supplies & Misc. Items:
Sometimes people have so many unopened office materials that I ask if they are planning to open their own store. All joking aside, you only need a certain amount at a time and the rest can be stored. I suggest sorting through your supplies and trashing anything that is old or used up. Superfluous items can go to your co-workers, children, a charity, or maybe even a local school or library.
Place the most important things that you use often in a tray or cup on the desktop and then choose an easily accessible drawer or cart for items that you use periodically. A desk without drawers makes the process of getting organized more difficult, so select one with drawers if possible or add a filing cabinet or rolling cart that you can fit under the desk. Bulk supplies like reams of paper can be stored in closets or a shelf further away from the desk.
Finally, decorative items or photos should be limited to the few most important things and stored up on a bulletin board, shelf or window sill to keep from wasting valuable workspace. Also limit the amount of items that sit on your desktop simply because they look nice, such as small figurines, gifts or awards. Instead, swap out the knickknacks for decorative office organizers that look great and serve a purpose at the same time.
Remember that your workspace does not have to look like a magazine unless you want it to. As long as you have a clutter-free space to complete your work and can find things when you need them, you have succeeded. Maintain this new-found control by taking a few minutes at the end or the start of each day to sort through the items on your desktop and put them in the appropriate places. I am sure you will agree that your clutter-free workspace helps to ease your stress and eliminate some distractions.