If you’re struggling to get things done at the office, look around you. Is your desk a mess? Apart from being visually unpleasing, having a disorganized desk makes it hard for you to focus and process information, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Because clutter competes for your attention, causing anxiety, guilt, and stress. So, it’s time to declutter your workspace!
However, when you’re staring at a giant mess, organizing things can seem impossible. Luckily, organizing and keeping your desk organized isn’t an insurmountable task it may appear to be at first glance. So long as you’re ready to be thorough and committed, keeping your desk organized is straightforward—and rewarding in the long run. These 5 simple tips will help you keep your workspace organized and you’ll enjoy more physical space, a clearer mind, and increased productivity.
1. Do a purge
Your desk should be a haven for focus and creativity. While notes are helpful reminders, a heap can make you less productive. Research shows that clutter leads to procrastination and feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Purge your workspace by moving everything to a new location at the beginning of the week. As you need various items, move them back to your desk. If at the end of the week you have untouched items, that means you should remove them from your desk. Use the same method with your filing cabinets and drawers.
Also, be thoughtful about the number of notebooks, sticky notes, and sheets of paper you need. Clear your floor, cubicle or home office of empty beverage containers and empty lunch boxes, and other things that steal your attention. For your home office, physically separate your home and work life to minimize distractions.
Remember the digital clutter, too. Digital clutter including email windows, applications, and unorganized files can quickly pile up. According to one survey, 45% of participants have over 20 browser tabs open at once. Reduce these extra distractions and try focusing on a single task. This will not only improve the performance of your computer, but it’ll also boost your productivity.
2. Create desk work zones
Your whole workspace starting from your desk to your chair and storage makes up your office ecosystem. Thus, when creating an organized and functional workspace, consider your entire ecosystem for a holistic refresh.
When building work zones on your desk, make sure the items you use the most are the closest to you with other items within an arm’s reach or further away, depending on how important they’re. To keep clutter away, assign each item a designated place. If, for example, your work involves physical items, such as contracts or files, place them on one side of your desk. And as you work on each item, move it to the center. Once you have completed your work, move the items back to their designated place.
Also, creating work zones away from your desk is pivotal. Because moving more during the workday improves your blood flow and focus. So, avoid staying in one place for too long by internationally moving file cabinets and other less-used items away from your desk. This will automatically add movement into your work routine and serve as a reminder to alternate positions every 30 minutes.
3. Manage your cable clutter
Poor cable management can create excess visual noise and slow down your workday. Organizing cables is an inexpensive way to give your workspace a fresh look.
Start by sorting your cables. Unplug each cable and examine your current setup. If you have been using your desk for a long time, you may see cables from devices you no longer use. Using painter’s tape and a marker, label your cables. This will allow you to identify wires, especially those near the power strip, in case you need to troubleshoot problems in the future.
Then reattach your cables. If, for instance, you have a standing desk or a monitor arm, position the furniture in the furthest position before reattaching your cables. This allows enough room for switching between sitting and standing.
Getting a cable tray can help you keep stray cables uncluttered. A cable tray is a perfect accessory to hold a power strip and keep all your cables neatly tied together in one place instead of them dangling around your feet. You can also use zip ties or hook and loop ties to keep your cables and cords wrapped together in one place.
4. Get a monitor arm
A quality monitor arm can make your work area more comfortable and usable. Monitor stands make the space underneath unusable and steal valuable desk space. Also, oddly shaped monitor stands are hard to clean than desk mounted monitor arms.
A monitor arm lifts, your monitor offering an ergonomic view. Plus, it creates an additional work area for your most-used items.
5. Update your filing system
As we move fully to the digital age, the need to store paper files is declining.
What can you store digitally? Are you duplicating your files? Answering these questions will help you eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing your files digitally, always do regular back-ups.
These storage tips can help you create a smooth filing system:
- Have a meeting folder – Put all “files to be discussed” in this folder along with items that need to be handed off, reports that needed to be submitted, etc. This’ll help you prepare for meetings and reduce stress in case a meeting is moved up.
- Have a WOR folder – Most of our clutter is things that are on hold until someone else acts or responds. Place them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check that folder regularly for any outstanding actions you may need to follow up on.
- Storage boxes – Use cheaper storage boxes to store archived files and clear them from your current file space.
- Magazine boxes – Use magazine binders or boxes to store catalog and magazines that are important. Make sure you really need them for research or reference, otherwise recycle them, or give them away.
- Reading folder – Have a designate folder for print articles and documents you may want to read later.
- Archive folder – Once you complete a project, place all the materials together and file them away. Also, create a “working folder” for projects that are in progress.
- File weekly – Don’t allow your filing to pile up. Place your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.
Use one tip or try all of them. The effort you put into creating and keeping an organized workspace will pay off in a big way. Instead of spending your time going through things or shuffling through the clutter, you’ll be able to spend your time… well… performing important tasks and you’ll be more productive. Thus, maintaining a clean and organized desk sets the foundation for a comfortable and productive workday that sets you on the path to accomplishing your goals.
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