Original Image: creativedigest.co.uk
Is your work area a disaster zone? Don’t waste productive time searching through heaps of paper for your pens. If you are disorganized, everything competes for your attention and makes it very challenging to focus at work, not to mention it does influence to some degree perceptions of your competence. Based on personal experience, I am not the tidiest nor most organized person, and my workspace does look like a tornado came through or a unicorn heaved all over it, so this was helpful for me to learn. I had indecipherable reminders littered everywhere, bills to pay and doctor’s instructions – not forgetting the towers of business cards. I was overwhelmed, encumbered and unquestionably disorganized.
Here are some beneficial guidelines and tips on how to declutter your workspace and get organized.
Sometimes the “hoarder” in you gets too real and displays its dreadful characteristics at work. Your desk is too cluttered and chances are that you’ve tried to declutter before but it just hasn’t worked in your favour. If removing clutter little by little does not even make a dent, you may be better off starting right from scratch and adding the stuff you essentially need little by little (I did just that, and it worked like magic). Take every single thing off your desk and from your drawers, place them in a box and start figuring out which items you truly need in your view. When you actually need an item, grab it from the box and put it on your desk. If you never want this item for weeks, you probably don’t actually need it.
Next you have to assess what you need and what can go into the trash. Clutter exists because our brain tricks us into thinking everything we own is significant and has a purpose. But, most of these things don’t really have a purpose; they are just safeguards and “sentimental” possessions. Are they redundant and outdated? If yes, then time to throw it out. When in doubt, throw it out. You will never need 90% of the papers that you are saving. If you really need a hard copy, make sure you have a filing structure to put it where you will know how to locate it when needed.
After this, you can organize your desk and drawers by level of importance. The stuff you do need go into the nearby drawer and everything you don’t really need goes in the drawers below or further away from arms reach. Tip: cut open an empty cereal box or a use a shoe box, which makes for a great DIY organizer. Remember you can also use wall space to suspend filing systems, calendars, whiteboards, shelves and more – there is so much more space if you go vertical.
Invest in a good label maker or use a sharpie to label your files, drawers and boxes for an easy way to organize your workplace. If you need something, you will know exactly where it is. Advantageous items include stickers (tabs, sticky notes) and writing tools (markers, pens).
If you really can’t throw anything out, the next solution is to maybe expand your workspace with additional storage space (a.k.a. time for a shopping trip to IKEA). Think vertically to increase your space on a small desk – insert items under your monitor or get a bookshelf. Use every inch to your own advantage. Another tip is that everything on your desk should have a home where it will stay and remain there always. You could also classify your files into two piles: active and inactive folders. Keep active files available and store inactive files in a labelled storage cabinet. This will decrease time spent rummaging through a huge mountain of folders.
Finally, schedule consistent cleaning times throughout the year – if you have not cleaned in a month, it could take you a few hours to actually tidy up. However if you do it daily or regularly, it should only take a few moments of your time. One of the best times to clean your desk is at the end of the day, it brings closure to your day and sets you up for a clean start tomorrow.
Don’t let your chaotic workspace hinder your ability to get your work done. If your desk is a mess, you won’t have space to work, nor any room for creativity. When inspiration or motivation hits, you don’t want to be searching for space to set down your important work or fighting the flood of junk on your desk.
We read in a couple of studies that messier people are more creative, but it’s time to get that part of your life sorted out because you also want to breathe, pay your taxes on time and get your article in before 4pm (in my case).