Many people think the organizing business is all about the home, but that’s not true! Many of my clients are busy professionals who find a home away from home at their workplace. If you’re the kind of person who puts in long hours at the office or home office, I’ve written a guide covering three keys to office organization. With tax day coming up on April 18th, there’s no better time to get your workspace in order.
Optimizing Your Work Station
If you read or watch anything about home design, you’ll find a lot about the “flow” of a particular room. This means the way you can move through a space, and usually the goal is to maximize efficiency and make using the room to its full purpose a seamless task. I like to apply the same principle to a desk or work station.
Ideally, your work space should have a few different zones. The first is where you’ll spend the majority of your time, and should be suited for your most intensive work. This can be the place where your main computer and telephone are located, or the desk itself if you have an entire office to work with. This area should be free of clutter, distractions, or items that you use infrequently. Only the most important tools of your trade should go here.
You should have a storage space where less used items go, and really think about how much you use them. If your office is primarily paperless, then those paper files you organized can be kept a little out of the way. Extra staples, spare coffee mugs, and snacks can be kept out of the main work zone as well.
Designate a special area for breaks and non-working time. This can be as simple as an armchair in a corner of the room, or a part of your desk away from the main work zone. Just as management systems like the Pomodoro Technique help you divide your time for productivity, you can divide your office space the same way. That way, the physical difference in your work and relaxation zones will help you to focus when the workload is tough, and find a calming area to destress in the middle of the day.
Organizing Files & Papers
Many businesses are going paperless these days—but for those tasks that are better done using hard copies, a messy pile of papers can be hard to avoid. If you’re stuck with a mountain of cubicle clutter, the first step is to sort them all into two major categories: those important enough to keep, and those that can be recycled or thrown out.
Once you’ve narrowed it down so the important papers remain, the next step is to implement a filing system. Depending on your line of work, you can sort these a few ways. Different projects, cases, or clients can each have a separate file, they can be sorted in order of importance, or of course there is chronological or alphabetical order. The most important thing is that the system is one that you can remember and keep up with ease.
Since the third week of April is National Organize Your Files Week, now is the perfect time to get started on this process. For even more tips on filing specifically, check out my blog post on straightening up your files here.
Clearing Virtual Clutter
Now that you have a clean desk surface and a system for filing your documents, it’s time to tackle the final place where clutter hides: your computer. In my experience, virtual clutter can sometimes pile up worse than physical clutter. As I often say, clutter represents delayed decisions, and sometimes it seems simpler to save all your files in a general documents folder. However, I find that if you apply the same rules of office organization to your computer, your work and life will be much easier!
Using the same system as for your physical documents, organize your digital files. Delete anything that doesn’t need to be saved. As you sort the remaining files, you can also divide them by type of file as well: word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and slideshows can each be kept separate for easy access. The best part about this is that making new folders on the computer is a very streamlined process, there’s no limit to how many folders you can make, and it’s all waste-free!
Once your files are sorted, you can optimize your virtual desktop just like your real one. Your most important, most time-sensitive, and most frequently used documents and applications can have shortcuts on your desktop. Other programs and files don’t need to crowd this space. The fewer items on your desktop, the easier it will be to quickly navigate with a click, and the less stressful your life will be!
In today’s fast-paced business environment, efficiency is a prized attribute. With these three keys to office organization, your files, workspace, and computer can all be maximized to their full potential. And imagine how much better interactions with co-workers, clients, or bosses will be with a clean, organized environment to conduct business. Contact our team to get started on this process, and lower your stress so much that work feels like play!