Whether you work from home in a small office or you have a cubicle or dedicated space in a real office, you need to have a good handle on office organization if you want to be productive.
People sometimes say that those with messy desks are more creative, but there’s a fine line between ‘loose organization’ and productivity-tanking mess. If you want to be able to focus and really get things done then you need to make an effort to keep your office as tidy as possible so you can find the things you need and stay “in the zone” during your working day.
Simple Office Organization Tips to Boost Your Productivity
The first step towards really organizing your office is to spend some time decluttering. Set aside a day to purge your office of everything that is of no use to you. Shred old mail, throw out all those pens that don’t write anymore, blunt scissors and half-empty printer cartridges. Throw out the tattered files and recycle the old envelopes. Be ruthless.
You may feel that time spent tidying is time that you’re not spending working and is, therefore, a waste but that isn’t necessarily true. If you spend a couple of hours cleaning now, then that’s a lot of time later that won’t be wasted being distracted by junk, or being unable to find things that you need for work.
Have a Place for Everything
Once you’ve cleared your desk off, work out a filing system. Having a simple set of ‘In’ and ‘Out’ trays is a good starting point for processing your mail. Keep stationery and tools in drawers, and file invoices in a box file.1
You want your working environment to be comfortable and stress-free, and it is well worth spending some time and money thinking about ergonomics. Make sure that your chair and desk are at the right height and that your computer monitor and keyboard are comfortable to use. You should have good posture at all times.2
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Organize your office furniture so that you can rotate your chair to reach your phone, filing cabinet or other commonly used items. You do not want to be twisting, bending or leaning repetitively at odd angles. If your office has a window, make sure that you have blinds or an anti-glare screen so that reflected sunlight does not disturb your vision.
Add a Touch of Personality
Office organization does not mean making the office bland to the point of removing all personality. You can still have a couple of ornaments, stickers, or accessories that reflect who you are. Consider using nootropic aromatherapy blends to help yourself focus. Cheer MONQ with palo santo, frankincense, and myrrh is a fun blend for those who need a pick me up, while the FOCUS R refillable personal diffuser has a nootropic mix that promises to help people get into a flow state and get their work done. It’s a good option for those who want to give themselves the mental edge without going overboard on caffeine.
Tidy Your Digital Life
Your digital life can be just as distracting as your ‘real world’ life. If your work computer is also your personal computer then you may find that you are bombarded with social media messages or that you are distracted from work with the lure of games. Try to find ways to prevent this, such as having a different user ID for “the office,” or using apps that will stop you from accessing time-wasting websites when you should be at work.
Set times that you will check emails and reply to messages, and times when you will work on other tasks. Try to stick to those times unless it is really urgent. Once you free yourself from the distraction of unnecessary chatter, you’ll find you are so much more productive.
Separate the Office From Your Personal Life
If you work in a ‘real office’ then you will find that this is much easier, since when you leave the office you’re done for the day (although the urge to reply to emails on your iPhone might be a bit too much sometimes). If you work from home, then you will want to make your home office and your ‘home’ two separate things.
Even if you work in a real office, you might find that if you are friendly with people at work they want to call in and chat from time to time and that can become a distraction. It’s important that you find ways to deal with that early on. Shut the door, if you can, or perhaps work with a headset on (listening to instrumental music so that the lyrics don’t distract you). Ask colleagues to email you if they have questions unless the questions really are urgent.
Keep A Bullet Journal
If you’re not a fan of traditional to-do lists, but you want to get things done, then try a bullet journal. Bullet journals are a good way of logging thoughts and lists, and they take up less space overall than having separate diaries and lists. You can merge notes, observations, diary events, to-do lists, and other notes into one booklet, and move items from list to list as you work. If you find that something keeps getting carried forward from one list to another then this could well be a sign that it’s not ever going to get done, so why stress about it? Assuming, of course, that it’s not a job such as “filing your taxes” that really does need done.
Build Good Habits
At the end of the day, take a couple of minutes to tidy up your desk so that you will come into work the next day to a nice clean working environment. It’s a small thing but it can make a big difference to your mood when you arrive at work. As with day to day home cleaning, little and often can make all the difference when it comes to staying on top of things.
Photo credits: pdsci/shutterstock.com, fizkes/shutterstock.com, Undrey/shutterstock.com