A new year means a new opportunity to get organized. In fact, January is such an ideal time to declutter and get started with a new organizational strategy that the National Association of Productivity and Organization has created: Get Organized Month (GO Month).
Numerous studies have looked at the positive effects that well-organized spaces have on our ability to focus and get things done, both at home and at work. For example, Princeton University neuroscience researchers found that too much stimuli (AKA clutter) reduces someone’s ability to concentrate.
So, how can you improve your organization in 2020 to maximize your productivity and get more done? Here are three key steps.
1. Throw out everything you don’t need—and let it go
The less stuff you have to organize, the easier it will be. So, the first step of any office organization project could be to throw away (preferably recycle, donate or repurpose) everything you don’t need to keep. This includes print outs of documents that you can access electronically, old mail, useless knick-knacks, dried out pens, outdated technologies and equipment. You can go through file cabinets and shred tax documents you no longer need copies of. Also try to look at documents you store on devices and delete anything unnecessary. (Your email inbox could probably use a cleaning while you’re at it).
Don’t be too picky! Many people hold on to things they don’t really need to out of fear of regret or concern they’ll eventually need those items. But that leads to paralysis. To truly downsize and benefit from minimalism, you have to let go.
2. Get the tools and supplies that will allow you to work faster and more efficiently
January is a good time to acquire the desk organization and office supplies that will help you stay productive throughout the year. Consider getting a fresh set of expanding or hanging file folders to keep paper documents stored away, a paper shredder that can shred confidential documents and mail quickly, and staplers, paper clips and other basic supplies that you can use to keep things in your office tidy. Try to make sure you have well-sized trash and recycle bins nearby so you can easily toss things immediately that you don’t need. And remember mental organization is important, too: a calendar or planner gives you a place to write down your daily or weekly to-do list, so you can stay focused and on task.
3. Create an organizational strategy and system
True organization isn’t a one-time or occasional activity. It means creating a system you can continue to use and easily replicate throughout the year. For example, have storage containers of the right size and design that will give you an easy place to put your mail and various types of documents, so you’re not piling them up on your desk or floor. Consider putting reminders on your calendar to go through those storage containers once a week and toss everything that doesn’t need to be kept. You can have a ready stock of cleaning supplies and designate 15 or 20 minutes each week to decluttering, dusting and tiding your work space. (If you do that on Friday afternoon, for example, your work space will be ready to go on Monday morning).
Before the new year gets too busy, try to devote a little time to organizing your work area for the year ahead and getting the organizational tools and supplies you need to stay organized. It will be time well spent—and can help you be more productive in the months ahead.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
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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