Here are some really simple yet effective tips to help you organize your desk for maximum efficiency
Do you ever look at the clock at the end of a work day and feel like you accomplished next to nothing? You probably feel really busy the entire day but when you measure what you wanted to get done against what you actually did, you realize you weren’t that productive at all.
A productive work day is dependent on many factors; some which you have the ability to control, others which you do not. Clearly you cannot anticipate every interruption from a client, know when your computer is going to freeze, or predict when school is going to call to pick up a sick child. So if you want to make the most out of your day, focus on what you can control – your desk.
Although you might feel like your desk owns you at times, that you are shackled to it, and could use some sort of IV drip so you wouldn’t even need to leave it to get food or water, the reality is that you can set your desk up to help you work smarter, be more efficient, and get more done in less time.
Why does the state of your desk matter so much?
A disorganized desk can lead to stress, damaged relationships, and lost opportunities and time. Did you know that your desk holds so much power? If you fail to pay your bills on time, miss appointments, forget to call clients back, and spend time looking for missing documents, your desk needs an organization makeover.
Here are some simple tips to set up your desk for maximum efficiency:
- Clear your desk of everything except large items (such as a printer, desktop computer, or scanner, if they are too heavy or cumbersome to move).
- Give your desk a good cleaning. Germs lurk everywhere.
- Establish a home for your laptop or desktop computer. Make sure you have enough room on either side of your computer for “elbow room”.
- Depending on whether you are left- or right-handed, designate a “clear zone” off to the side of the computer, wherever you would use a paper and a pen to take notes or edit a printed document.
- Put your phone in a visible spot on your desk. If you have a corded phone, put the phone on the side opposite your writing area so the cord does not get in the way when you write.
- Use a small jar, cup, or pencil holder to store frequently used items like scissors, a letter opener, pens, and pencils. Every office supply you own does not need to be visible, just the ones you use regularly.
- If you do not have a top drawer available to store other items you use daily, like a stapler and tape, position them close to your pens/pencils.
Whenever possible, utilize vertical wall space for additional storage. Stackable wall pockets work well for incoming mail and projects. No wall space available? Establish a place for incoming and outgoing mail. (The mail sorter on the desk pictured here (right) has different sections that accommodate incoming mail, outgoing mail, and stamps.)
- Use a vertical file sorter for ACTIVE files. (The file sorter for ACTIVE files is pictured here on the left). Projects you are currently working on should be stored in ACTIVE files. If you have not accessed documents within the past 30 days and will not need to access them within the next 30 days, those items should be moved to INACTIVE file storage. Categorize your ACTIVE files by task (i.e. TO DO, TO CALL, TO PAY, TO FILE) or by project (i.e. ABC Client, XYZ Client, Team-Building Project).
- Keep personal items like photographs, awards, and food items off your desk. They lead to distractions. Limit the number of personal items in your work space and store them on nearby bookshelves, on the wall, or on top of a filing cabinet.
That’s it! It seems hard to believe, but the only items you NEED on your desk are very few. Take a look at your desk now. Can you see the top of it? Are all of your projects organized into folders? Are you able to find anything within seconds? If not, chances are that your desk needs a quick organization makeover. Clear your desk to make more space so you can be more productive.