Clear the Clutter: Six Tips to Organize Your Office
August 6, 2018
By Cathie Ericson
Would you believe that the average office worker spends 20% of the day searching for and gathering information? Imagine how your productivity would soar if you were more organized. And when spring is in the air, it’s a good time to declutter.
No matter what your setup — private office, co-working space, home office, cubicle or pod — these tips can help you clean out disorganization like a pro.
1. Create a place for incoming and outgoing documents
No matter how vigilant you are about handling new papers, a certain number will still be waiting for action. You can create a system for incoming and outgoing documents, so that important papers don’t merge into one amorphous pile. More often than not, the old-school, two tray system works best; it’s hard to improve on a classic.
2. Go through the piles and purge
First, get your workspace organized for a "paper-purge party," with a recycling container and two adjacent work areas. Consider using a dedicated place where documents with personal information are shredded, the other for papers to be sorted out once the purging is over.
Keep future paper overload in check by committing to only touching all papers once. Implement this routine into your business system: Recycle, file or address documents immediately as they arrive.
3. Update your filing system
Are you spending too much time figuring out how to file important documents? Your filing system could be either too complex or, conversely, not specific enough. The time you invest in updating it right now to reflect the way your current business works can pay dividends over the year in faster filing and retrieval.
4. Get your to-do processes under control
Hot tip: Now is the perfect time to break in a new to-do-system, whether it’s a calendar, wall planner, notebook such as the TUL Custom Note-Taking System or an app. There are as many choices as there are personalities; the key is to find which process works best for your business.
5. Don’t neglect e-clutter
It’s not only your paper piles that could use a good purge; your computer has likely amassed its share of clutter. If you’re constantly scrolling through old files you no longer need, create a “dead zone” where you can send files related to projects on which you’re no longer actively working. They can still be available for retrieval, just not actively on your screen.
A good way to cut down on your email clutter is to unsubscribe from newsletters you rarely use. If you find that you missed reading something, you can always resubscribe. Also, handle email like you deal with real mail: Take care of short tasks immediately, file missives that you may need later, and delete those you’ve read and don't need.
6. Put organizing on your monthly agenda
While we’d like to think that all these habits will become second nature, nearly every office can use a periodic tuneup. So, add decluttering to your regular to-do list, just like sending month-end invoices or reports. Starting each month off with a clean slate will help you feel like you’re already accomplishing something important.
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared in LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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