We can all work more productively with one simple adjustment to our office environment: clearing off our desk.
“Clear Desk, Clear Mind.” There is truth to that old saying. Studies indicate that people do actually work better with a desktop that is clear of clutter. The simple act of clearing off your desk will help you focus on any task at hand, work more creatively and be more productive.
Some of you might be thinking that the task of clearing off the desktop is anything but simple. If you don’t have time right now but have lots of desk work to do and too much clutter on your desk, consider transferring everything on your desk into a big bin — for now. It’s a quick fix that will instantly help you focus on your work, but keep in mind, you will have to cull through and organize the bin sooner or later.
If you’d like to go the traditional route of actually dealing with the paper piles on your desk to really organize your desktop clutter, here are some easy to follow guidelines:
Use the 4 “D’s” organizing system: Do, Decide, Delegate, & Dump, regarding every piece of paper you sort through on your desk.
Do — simply DO the task at hand if it will take you 3 minutes or less
Decide — If you don’t have the time now, establish a follow up date in which you will work on it. File the paperwork in a file marked for that day.
Delegate — if you can’t handle your daily paperwork, consider delegating the task to a coworker or family member.
Dump — If it’s outdated, you don’t need it or won’t use it, dump it!
Create an Office Tickler file: 12 hanging files for each month of the year and one set of 31 insert folders (marked #1 — #31) inside the current month’s file. Any paper to be dealt with at a future date should be dropped into the folder corresponding to the date. For example, if you need to register online by the 25th for a seminar you are considering, drop the registration form into the folder marked #25. This gets the paper OFF your desk and into a calendar organizing system.
Set a clutter boundry. Keep the bulk of your desk clear from clutter. Use a desk blotter or large desk calendar and maintain that no papers ever get dropped there.
Keep just your task at hand in front of you on your desk. By keeping only your project folder, bills you are paying, or a particular office task you are working on in front of you on the desk will keep you focused on just that task. Remove all other clutter.
Have a place to discard papers. A good-sized wastebasket/shredder and paper recycle bin are essential in every office.
Keep essential items close by. Items used daily should be kept within an arm’s reach of your desk chair. Paperwork and other items used just once in a while should be filed in a nearby file cabinet or stored on office shelf space.
Motivate yourself! Create a small inspiration corner of your desk (flowers, photo, or an object representing a goal).
Good lighting is a must, so upgrade your light bulbs, open the blinds, or consider adding task lighting, if needed.
Double up on space. Lift up items when possible with a shelf rack to create more workspace on the desk.