If you’re wading through stacks of papers, dry pens, and sticky notes to get to your desk, it’s time to take action.
For those of us that spend a lot of time at a desk, it’s easy to let extraneous office materials, knick knacks, and coffee cups build up over time. Before you know it, your desk is a distracting mountain of stuff and you aren’t getting anything done in that cluttered space.
It’s time to organize your workspace and, by doing so, boost your productivity. A study in London found that workers were 32 percent more productive when they were given control over organizing their office. When our space feels out of our control, our efficiency suffers.
Take charge of your desk with these stupid simple organization hacks that are sure to make you power through work at lightning speed.
1. Shred and Dust
This is where you start, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve given your desk a good once over.
Invest in a shredder. How many pieces of mail have you stacked in the corner because you don’t want to throw it in the trash? A shredder will help you organize your space while also keeping your personal information private.
If you have a bad habit of stacking papers and storing files for years on end, it’s time to purge. Most cities have a “shred day” when a local paper company or the city sends large shredders out to help the community shred and recycle old documents and files. Find out when one is happening near you and mark the date.
Once all of your old papers are shredded and recycled, it’s time to wipe everything down. It’s easy to ignore all the dust that builds up behind your monitor and on your fun knick knacks, but dust makes your space look dingy and could be giving you the sniffles every time you sit down to work.
A freshly cleaned space will leave your mind clear to focus on the task at hand.
2. Stop Stacking Mail
The easiest way to keep mail from cluttering your desk is to eliminate it. Opt to get all of your bills electronically and unsubscribe from junk mail lists. Try signing up with Catalogue Choice, a non-profit specifically dedicated to reducing the amount of junk mail that ends up in your mailbox.
For those pieces you can’t avoid receiving as paper mail, have a system for organizing them. Find a fashionable tray or divider to put in the corner that separates mail by name and category. Have one slot for unopened mail, opened mail that needs a response, and magazines or coupons.
3. Go Digital
When it comes to office organization, these days it’s so easy to scan and save files digitally that you’d be crazy to keep those stacks of paper on your desk.
Get an external hard drive, or better yet, subscribe to a cloud storage service like Dropbox, and reserve a Saturday for organizing. It might be a pain to get all of your files digital at first, but once the bulk of the files are scanned, all you have to do is stay on top of it.
Not only will this reduce the amount of space wasted in your office, it will also make all your information super easy to access. No more digging through filing cabinet after filing cabinet for a single paper. Everything you need will always be at your fingertips.
Talk about efficiency!
4. Clean Up Your Desktop
Your computer desktop that is. It is easy to download files, save them to your desktop, and forget about them. But all those little icons add up fast.
Just as you don’t want to have to waste time digging through physical files to find what you need, you don’t want to have to dig through digital files either. Find a system that works for you, whether that’s saving to your hard drive, Dropbox or Evernote, or Google Drive, and then stick to it.
Build folders that separate files and take advantage of the search bar when you need to find something instead of guessing. If everything is saved in the same system, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for with ease and you can get back to work.
5. Corral Cords
Between headphones, keyboards, mouse cords, and phone and laptop chargers, it’s easy for your desk to become cluttered with cords.
Clean up that mess with a desktop cord organizer or even invest in cordless accessories. To eliminate charger cords, find organizers with built-in charging stations so all your devices stay juiced with little mess on your desk.
Cord tacos are another easy way to keep your headphones organized so you aren’t wasting time untangling messy cords before you can get to your jams.
6. Reduce Reach
I know it’s fun to slide around in your rolling chair, but each whirl across the office is a time waster.
Move important items close to you so they are within reach. The things you use most, like pens, sticky notes, your phone, and printer, should be within reach. If you don’t use something very often, like your limited edition dictionary or bamboo plant, move it out of the way to make room for the necessities.
Once your work is done, you can roll around in your chair feeling accomplished and stress free.
7. Store Some Snacks
When you’re in the zone on a project, you don’t want to be distracted by a rumbling tummy. Instead of breaking your focus to grab a snack, fill a nearby drawer with easy-to-eat goodies.
This goes for water too. Stay hydrated all day with a small water filter near your desk. This can help you cut out focus-destroying sodas while reducing trips to the vending machine.
Be careful not to fill your snack drawer with high-sugar treats. That sugar crash sure won’t help your productivity. Instead, get some natural sugar from dried fruit and boost your focus with protein from nuts or jerky.
Your desk shouldn’t be the reason you aren’t reaching your goals, it should be helping you!
Once you find the right balance of stuff in your space, set a date to reorganize every few months so your desk doesn’t fall into old, messy habits.
What item in your office can you never find a home for? What’s your biggest dirty desk demon?