An untidy workspace, as someone once famously remarked, will lead to an untidy mind. And if your mind is untidy, then you’re unlikely to get much work done. The purpose of an office is to provide a productive work environment – basically, to allow you to get things done. If you must hunt around for miscellaneous receipts, ledgers and other bits of paper every time you need to refer to them, then you’ll be wasting time that could be spent working. But more than that, if your workspace is filled with cups, cables and disconnected computer adaptors, then you’re unlikely to be able to concentrate on the task in hand.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which we might keep our offices in good working order.
Whilst it might seem obvious, the first step toward getting an office tidy is to tidy it, all in one go. It’ll be far easier to maintain an existing level of tidiness than it will be to gradually beat back the clutter over a period of months. Go through your entire work area in stages, taking each item in turn. If you don’t need it, get rid of it. A good indicator of whether an item has seen use is it’s covered in a thin layer of dust; if it is, it’s probably not going to be used in future.
Shred Sensitive Documents
If, during your initial clean, you come across documents that are old and useless, but sensitive, then be sure to shred them. Assign a date of shredding for each file or folder, and then spend a few minutes every week looking through to see which are ripe for destruction.
Eat Away From the Desk
One thing that’s sure to cause a steady build-up of clutter over time is the habit of eating at your desk. While many of us work to tight schedules, and can’t seem to find the time to get away from the desk to grab a bite to eat, this is no reason to avoid getting up entirely. How much work are you really going to get done while you’re tucking into a sandwich? Having so many plates, cups and cutlery on your desk will add to that feeling of claustrophobia. Moreover, getting up and stretching one’s legs at lunchtime is good for both the body and the mind – and you’ll probably more productive once you return to your desk.
Get a Label-Maker
If you’re dealing with a lot of drawers, then it might not be easy to remember what goes where – particularly if you’re often leaving a drawer and returning to it long afterwards. A good label-maker will make a wise investment. Get one that’s easy to use, and then spend a few hours labelling everything in your office – from bins to pots to drawers.
Get a Calendar
If you’re the sort of person who loses track of time easily, then you’ll want to invest in a calendar. Getting a physical calendar that you can attach to your wall will be a lot better than using your phone to track the days where you are very likely to get distracted by social media or games. What’s more, the tactile pleasure of writing things down might prove therapeutic, and help you to remember your commitments and meet them.
Get a Pencil Pot
Pencils and pens are notorious for getting up and wandering about at inopportune times. They’re also unsuitable for storage in drawers and other such places – and for this reason, it makes sense to invest in a pencil pot – particularly if you find yourself using a large amount of pencils throughout your working day.
Organise Your Workspace
In order that you can find the item you’re looking for at a moment’s notice, it’s important to categorise everything, and store it accordingly. This will save you the trouble of rifling through all your paperwork constantly (which will create more work for you, as you’re constantly having to interrupt an order that you yourself will need to restore. A set of drawers should serve adequately. Fill it with all the loose paper that’s cluttering up your workspace currently.
Some items aren’t so easily categorised and stored as paper – but they might clog up your desk just as easily. For these, it’s worth investing in a miniature desk-tidying box. A chest will do just the trick.
When you come to refer to receipts, you’ll need to have them on hand. Unfortunately, if you’re getting through a lot of receipts, you’re likely to lose them before you have a chance to file them. Your wallet isn’t a safe space to store them – as they might easily get confused with promotional stubs, old cinema vouchers and expired parking tickets. Keep a little tin in your office for this exact purpose, and make a point of emptying any receipts into it whenever you have the opportunity.
File at Regular Intervals
If you’re in the habit of dumping your paperwork in a random pile, to be filed at some unspecified later date, then you aren’t alone – and if you have more pressing immediate priorities, the work of filing everything might easily lose out. That’s why you should set aside an hour or so of your time every week to rifle through your filing pile and distribute it to the relevant cabinets.