A cluttered desk is more than just an eyesore. It wastes your time, and that costs you productivity and money. Here are six ways to get your desk neat and organized and keep it that way.
Do you feel like you’re buried under a mound of paper by the end of the day? If so, join the crowd. According to the Smead Corporation, which manufactures filing systems and records management products , the average office in the US spits out more than 45 paper missives each day – adding up to a whopping 1300 sheets of paper each month. Where does it all go?
If you’re eyeing your office with dismay, there’s a good chance that where that paper is “going” now is on top of your desk. And in the hutch over your desk.. and next to the printer…And, Oh no! The cat just jumped up on your filing cabinet and knocked a big pile of papers onto the floor.
What can you do to put an end to the clutter when paper seems to clone itself when you’re not looking? Here are several suggestions:
1) Start with a plan
Sort through and categorize the papers on your desk. Consider which you’ll need close at hand, which you need to save only for archival value and what you can read and toss. Give each of those categories of paper a “home.” Make a list of your categories if necessary so you remember whether proposal samples get filed under “Samples” or under “Proposals”. Store that list on your computer – and resist the temptation to print it out!
2) Start with the filling cabinet, not the desk
The rationale for that is simple. If you don’t have an orderly system for filing papers – and room in your filing cabinet to put those files – you’ll never get your desk cleaned. Toss out old files and review your overall system. Set up your filing system so files you need regularly are near at hand. Consider color-coding to group similar files together and make them easily identifiable. Move files you don’t need often to an out-of-the way location.
3) Divide and Conquer
Don’t try to clean up the entire office in one day. The secret to getting your office organized and keeping it organized is to break the process down into steps and tackle one step at a time.
4) File Regularly
Don’t let things sit around for days. Get in the habit of putting papers away as soon as you are done with them. Use the last 15 minutes of your workday to tidy up your desk and get it ready for the following morning. Also, think seriously before keeping a piece of paper. Will you really need it for the future? If it’s readily available on your computer, you might be better off throwing it away.
5) Get Cables Under Control
Monitor cables, phone chargers, power cords – all these cables can add to the visual chaos at your desk. You can opt for a simple solution, like running cables behind your desk and zip tying them together so they stay in a clean bundle, or you can purchase some type of cable management solution like neoprene sleeves that completely hide cables while still allowing you to easily access them. Don’t forget about those spare charging bricks, power cords and adapters, either. Rather than having them loose in a drawer, bundle each cord up neatly and secure it with a velcro strap, then place them all in a designated drawer or box for when you need them.
6) Purchase Space-Making Products
There are a slew of space-making products available now that can help you organize your desk for efficiency. Among them are handsome wooden trays with partitions for holding pens, cell phone, tablet and other paraphernalia that accumulates on your desk; rolling file cabinets that fit under your desk and multitiered in-baskets. And don’t forget the best space-maker of all: the wastebasket. Keep that close at hand and use it frequently.
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