Keeping your workspace healthy and clean will boost productivity, make it easier for you to concentrate on the task at hand, and it will even reduce the frequency of colds and flues. It seems incredible that the simple act of keeping your desk neat and organized can do all of that, but it’s true. Here’s how to get started.
Use a System To Manage Paper
Paper is becoming less common in the workplace, but it’s still there. You just cannot have a paperless office yet. There’s always the physical memos, the government forms, the internal policies, and customer requests that demand you use at least some paper. But what you don’t have to put up with is a messy desk caused by dead trees.
Get an inbox that’s dedicated to all incoming paperwork. On top of your inbox tray, stack another letter tray to put items in that are “on hold.” These would be items that you’re not ready to deal with right now, but that cannot be filed away in permanent storage.
If you don’t have one yet, get an “action and tickler” file. These are basically A-Z accordion files. Put papers in here that require more than 2 minutes to deal with – like forms that you need to fill out and documents that need proofreading.
Use a filing cabinet for long-term storage of documents.
Get a “current projects” rack to temporarily store all documents or papers that you’re currently in the process of processing. For example, let’s say you’re in the middle of a project. You’re filling out some forms, but it’s going to take a week or more to complete them because you’re waiting on data analysis, test results, or a client or co-worker to get back to you with some critical piece of information. Those kinds of things go in the “current projects” rack.
The trash can is where pretty much everything else goes. If you’re not working on it, don’t intend to work on it in the near future, and you don’t need to store it for future use, get rid of it.
Use The Right Desk Shape
One of the best things you can buy are L-shaped desks. They’re so versatile and they do a great job at organizing all your office stuff. For starters, most l-desks accommodate a monitor in the corner and a keyboard on a pull-out shelf. Items you use frequently can be placed on the “leg” of the desk that you don’t use for everyday work.
Throw Away Printouts
If you don’t need printouts, get rid of them. All too often, people hang on to paperwork that is no longer needed. Illustrations and client proposals from 6 months ago are usually trash – especially if the client is no longer interested in doing business with you or you haven’t heard from him.
Don’t Eat At Your Desk
Eating at your desk can be a hazard to your health and it also makes a mess of everything. Spilling who-knows-what sauces, mayonnaise, and even leaving behind bread crumbs encourages bugs and bacterial growth. All it takes is for you to touch a week-old bread crumb or part of your desk that still has a mustard stain on it and then touch your face to kickstart a cold. Yuck.
Albert Stayton is an office executive. He often writes about his years of experience organizing and managing offices