The importance of organization and the impact of order, or the lack thereof, on your workday productivity is not a new concept. Similar to an accident halting the flow of traffic and slowing down everything in its wake, when things are not in order in your workspace, you can lose hours of your life just trying to find what you need! The problem is compounded when the disorder piles up to the point that you are at a complete workday stand-still.
Fortunately, there are some options. By keeping things in order, you can get the flow of your productivity back on track and increase your efficiency immensely. Here are a few organizational tips to get you moving.
Clear the Mental Clutter
If you ask highly efficient people what helps keep them in line, I am willing to bet that most, if not all, mention the importance of making lists. Prior to cleaning the clutter of your space, you need to clear the clutter of your mind. Get in the habit of making lists for your daily agenda.
Keeping lists not only encourages you by allowing you to see your progress throughout the day (believe it or not, even though you feel like you are merely spinning your wheels, you are actually accomplishing things!), but it also increases your productivity by allowing you to jot something down and then devote your energy and focus elsewhere.
When it comes to work, your list should be the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you create at the end of each day. Before you leave your desk, whether you work from home or out of a separate office, write down the things you know you need to do the next day. Once it’s on the list, do your best to forget about it until the next morning: you’ve written it down, you won’t forget about it. As soon as you stop wasting energy trying to remember everything, you can focus on the task at hand, thereby increasing your productivity and your peace of mind.
Color-Code your Clutter
Another great way to save time at work is to create a color-coded system for pre-filing documents. For example, if you have one In Box on your desk that is stuffed to the gills with a stack of paper, each piece unrelated to the next, think of how long you will have to look for that one document, not to mention you will have to repeat the process of sifting for every single piece of paper you need! That adds up to a ton of minutes, lost forever, never to be seen again…
A better option is to create a system within a system: fill your In Box with different colored files, each having their own specific purpose, in which you place various documents as you receive them. Be sure to take a moment to file each item immediately. After all, you have an In Box because you can’t attack each task the minute it comes through your door, right?
You have not changed the basic purpose of the In Box Â– designating a place to set these items aside Â– but now there is a method to the madness. When you need to find a receipt, you know those are all in the green folder; when you need an invoice, look in the red file, and so on. This is a great system for pre-organizing your papers; you are still leaving them in your Box to get to when you have a moment, but now, that’s all it will take to find them Â– a single moment instead of hours.
Contain Your Clutter
“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a saying that has been around forever for a reason: it works! How much time and energy do you estimate you spend looking for functional pens, erasers, paperclips, or sticky note pads? When you have a set location and container for separating items, you know exactly where to reach for what you want.
Separate desk items into groups based on what they are. Whether you create compartments inside your desk or you arrange an attractive display on your desktop or side shelf, make sure you keep like items together (pens, markers, pencils, etc.) and for items like pens, throw them out when they run low on ink. This way, you do not have to go through five pens when your boss needs you to sign something “right away.”
Further divide items into sub-groups based on their sizes. For example, although it’s good to put all of your paperclips together apart from your binder clips, it’s even better to separate the large ones from the small ones. Not only does this eliminate unnecessary time spent searching for the appropriate clips for the stack of papers you have, but it also allows you to see at a glance when your supply runs low.
Gather together the cords from your phone, computer, printer and any other pieces of equipment you have on your desk and in your workspace and clamp or tie them together. By bundling the loose wires in bunches, you eliminate the visual chaos and the hazard to your safety and efficiency in one fell swoop.
By gaining an awareness of the time-stealers in your workday, you can eliminate them and increase your productivity dramatically. Not only do you have more time and energy to focus on your career, but you have even more left over at the end of the day to devote to the non-work related parts of your life.
How have you organized your desk and office to increase your productivity? What ways have you found to add time to your day?
Garret Stembridge of Extra Space Storage helps individuals and businesses with self storage needs. Extra Space Storage has mini storage locations in over 400 cities, including an Auburn self storage yard, along with Storage units in Birmingham and Hoover.