If you are going to work, then you need a neat, clean, workspace to do it. An office that’s cluttered and disorganised is overwhelming – and can keep you from creating your best work. While it may seem convenient to just stack papers in large piles, or litter your “guest chair” with file boxes, doing so will ultimately make your life more difficult, when you cannot find what you need, or accidentally throw out an important document. Implement these ten best ways to keep your office organised, and enjoy your newfound increased productivity.
1. Set up a filing system: The biggest culprit in most offices’ clutter are stacks of papers that have not been filed away. If you have not already purchased a sizeable filing cabinet, do so, and set up the racks of hanging file folders to hold your records. Use manila folders, labeled with the folder’s contents for each year’s, customer’s, or project’s papers. When it comes time to archive your documents you will be able to take the manila folders and drop them into the file boxes.
2. Get a garbage can: Keep your desk free of empty boxes, food wrappers, and other garbage by having a decent sized garbage can located near your desk, so you do not have to make a special trip to dispose of garbage. If you often find yourself with recyclables, such as soda cans or water bottles, purchase a second waste container for this purpose. Empty them both at the end of every day if you are putting food waste in them, but weekly at the very least.
3. Clear your desk: Hang the photos of your family and your calendar on the wall, and stow all of your pencils, pens, and highlighters in one desk caddy. If you have too many to fit in, put the extras in a drawer and pull them out when it is time to dispose of the pens, pencils, and highlighters in the caddy.
4. Wipe it down: Buy a container of disinfecting wipes and keep it handy at your desk. Once a day use one of the wipes to sanitise and clean your keyboard, mouse, desk surface, phone and, if you have one, desk calculator. Use a soft, clean, rag to dust the computer monitor, and any other desktop items that you cannot use the sanitising wipes on.
5. Scan your documents: If you have a scanner, or access to one, consider whether you can safely scan the papers that are taking up space in your office and then archive or destroy the originals. Doing this can save you several cabinets’ worth of storage space. Another advantage is that you can then back up the scanned documents to a remote server or drive, so that in the case of an emergency, even if the paper documents are destroyed you will still have copies available to you.
6. Don’t forget the floor: When you dust, some dust may go onto the rag, but the rest goes onto the floor, and so does a lot of other crumbs, dust, and dirt tracked in from outside, so once a week vacuum your carpeting, or if your office is tiled, mop it. You can use a disposable mopping solution, like a Swiffer, or mix up your own solution of ammonia and water.
7. Remind yourself: If you find yourself losing track of time, and the clutter building up on your desk and in your office, put a reminder on your calendar, like any other appointment, to remember to vacuum, dust, and file each week. The key to staying organised is continual monitoring of your office.
8. Maximise your space: If you have room for a bookshelf, install one and use it for any reference materials you regularly use. Another option is a hanging bookshelf on the week above your desk if you are short on floor space. Remember, though, if you do not regularly consult a volume, because it is outdated or otherwise obsolete, then dispose of it.
9. Label everything: Some people find that having a set of shelves for files on their desk is helpful. To try this technique, first decide exactly how you plan to use them, and then label the shelves accordingly to keep them from becoming a landing zone for miscellaneous debris. Be sure to re-evaluate this system regularly to ensure it is still effective.
10. Eat away from your desk: Food is messy – and even if you are not gobbling down powdered sugar covered doughnuts right over your keyboard, bits of the food you eat at your desk eventually find your way into it. IF you must eat at your lunch, push away the keyboard, and spread out a napkin or placemat to catch the crumbs. Dispose of it before you return to work.