My desk is the place where I spend the majority of my work day. It serves as my work space, impromptu meeting area and more often than not, my lunch table (although I don’t advocate that). With so many uses, it’s inevitable that around 3 p.m. every day, I take a look around and realize… I’m surrounded by a big mess. Notes from a morning meeting are to my right, papers co-workers have dropped off throughout the day are to my left, various pens and highlighters are scattered all over and pretzel crumbs are on the floor and chair.
When it’s time for me to go home, I’ll admit, I don’t do the best job at cleaning up – usually, the papers get stuck in a file folder to look at the next day, the pens and highlighters get thrown in a drawer, more crumbs are swept onto the floor and I’m out the door.
This Fall though, I’ve promised myself to become more organized and neat. If you find yourself in a similar situation, consider some of these tips:
- If you don’t use it, lose it. Chances are, throughout the course of the year, you accumulate enough pens, highlighters, notepads, paper clips, rubber pens, etc. to last your entire career. While it’s good to have the supplies you need, it’s not good to take up space with 100 extra pens. Determine what you need, and leave the rest out in your business’s or company’s common area for others to use. Leslie Jacobs, owner of Les Is More, a personal organizing business, (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/printthis/82924.html) also suggested donating items to schools or organizations you know could benefit from having their own extra supplies.
- Realize file folders are your friends. Sort through all your papers, and start filing them away as soon as you receive them! Although you may insist you know what every paper is for in that stack you have on your desk, it will be much easier to find in a clearly labeled file folder. To make papers even easier to locate, Jacobs recommended using different color folders for different topics; in other words, you could use green folders for financial papers, yellow folders for client records, and so on.
- Keep your notebooks and Post-It notes to a minimum. This is my worst offense; I have multiple notebooks and just grab the first one I see. I also have pads of Post-It notes everywhere, since I don’t like tearing off notes I’d like to keep. To prevent too many notes in too many different places, this tip comes from a former manager’s book: keep one notebook with all your notes taken throughout the day, and then another with your To-Do list. This way, you don’t have everything intermingled. The Post-It notes can stay- but keep it to one pad to eliminate confusion.
- Take care of your electronics. All of those crumbs from your afternoon treat will add up, and so will the dust bunnies. Emilie Sennebogen of The Learning Channel (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/printthis/82924.html) said electronic-friendly wipes are available at office supply stores to clean up your phone, computer and even your desk top. Around our office, we’ve found even household supplies work well – Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes can be used on electronics, while Swiffer® Dusters are easy to use on screens and hard-to-reach places.
- There are Floor Plans… and then there are Desk Plans. Just like each house has a blueprint, your desk should have one as well. Sennebogen suggested giving each crucial item in, or on your desk an assigned location. For example, if your stapler should be in your top drawer, put it back in the same spot you found it after using it. According to Sennebogen, the more you do this, the more keeping your desk clean becomes second nature. Additionally, leave room for new items; you never know when new files or supplies may be a necessity.
Keeping your space clean and in-order can take time, but if you schedule a little time each day to get organized, the clutter won’t add up and you’ll be more productive in the long run. Fall back into good habits, and make your work area the envy of the office!