Do you walk into your office, whether it be in your home or in an office building, and instantly feel overwhelmed with clutter and mess?!
Are you constantly searching for something and using up precious time??!!
Are you tired of feeling like nothing gets done because there is so much stacked up in piles on your desk?!!!!!!
Well folks, have no fear. For just one LOW LOW price of $19.95 YOU TOO can have an organized desk with the Desk Mate 3000....
HA! I really was starting to sound like an infomercial there huh? Ok, so I can't sell you a magic machine to organize your office space, but I can help you spend your time wisely to get organized and stay that way.
In my last post I talked about what financial information you should keep and for how long you should hold onto it. I also helped you set up an easy filing system in your cabinet. Now let us tackle the rest of your office. First, let's get three large bins and label them Keep, Trash, and Maybe. We want to keep the Maybe bin pretty empty and reserve only for things we're not sure if we can get rid of or not sure of where to keep it. We will organize that bin last. Also, if you work out of your home, you might want to create a fourth bin labeled, Not Office, for the things that really shouldn't be in your office. We want to create this bin so that you aren't constantly leaving your office during clean up to put these things away and take you away from the task at hand.
Ok, READY??!! Deep breath......let's go!
Sit at your desk and start going through the things that are within reaching distance. Whether it's paperwork, folders, trash, or office supplies, start sorting. Try and not spend too much time on any one item - we want to quickly make the decision which bin it goes into, otherwise this project could take too long, overwhelm you more, and then possibly stop you from finishing. Work your way to the edges of your desk and then to any other open surfaces in your office. We want to get all the visual spaces cleaned off first so you can see the headway you are making and keep you going.
Once you get all the open surfaces cleaned off, make your way to the drawers at your desk. Clean out all those pens that don't work anymore, candy that is a year old, marketing toys that take up space, or that random ketchup packet that looks 10 years old. DON'T try and organize each drawer right now, just continue with the bins. We will go back and organize each drawer when we are done sorting. If you have a drawer with files in it, quickly look at each file, decide whether or not to keep the file as a whole, and then go through the file itself. KEEP SORTING!!!! Make your way to your bookshelf if you have one. Books are always hard to get rid of so let's just worry about any random papers or other items that have been stacked in this space. We don't necessarily have to get rid of any books if you have the space, but we will go back and organize them.
OK.... all visual space and drawers sorted??!!! Now onto part 2!
First, let's go ahead and tackle the trash bin since it is the easiest. Get it OUT OF THERE!!!!! WOW...doesn't that feel good??!! Also, the bin for those of us that work from the house labeled Not Office, go ahead and put that outside your office but don't start putting all of it away, just get it out of your office to clear up floor space. LOOKIE THERE....now you just have two bins to organize!
Second, let's tackle the office supplies. Gather up all your pens, pencils, or any other writing utensil and put them all in one place. It can be a container in a drawer or a holder on your desk. I would also think about getting something that can hold pens and other supplies like paper clips, thumbtacks, staples, rubber bands, scissors, or any other loose supplies you have so that they don't end up in another mess. Containers that hold multiple things are usually better stored in a drawer. PLUS, we want to keep your desk space as open as we can! Also, keep essential items only on your desk. Think about what you use the most and keep it within reaching distance. Place all other office supplies in a drawer or on top of another work space. (This would be a good time to find a home for that random 3 hole punch, stamps and stamp pads, and maybe that hardly ever used pencil sharpener) Pictures are a great thing to have in your office if in moderation, and only in spaces that you don't use for actual work - like the corners of your desk or on a bookshelf in front of rarely used books. Finish organizing your drawers that contain personal items or other non-work related items. Leave the filing drawers for the next step.
Third, and probably the most important - organizing the paperwork. Before we tackle that, let's make some files to keep on your desk to help you stay organized. I'm not a big fan of bins simply because the papers at the bottom end up staying there forever and never get looked at again... well, at least until you muster up the energy to organize again!!! Let's create files that are labeled To Do, File Me, Pending, and Incoming/Unopened. These files will help you stay more organized and keep piles from being created in your workspace. DON'T EVER let these desk files get too full, otherwise you will have to spend more time on each file than what is needed. Also, create files that you know will be used that can hang inside your drawer. For example, someone in sales will create a file(s) for marketing pieces, client(s), or industry related materials.
Ok now, off you go - Sort all that paperwork you kept!!!!!!!!
WOW WEE!!!! Look at you go!!!!
Are you feeling better now? DO YOU SEE all your hard work paying off??!!!! There are only two things left to tackle and that is your bookshelf if you have one, and your Maybe bin. Let's start with the bookshelf. You can go one of two ways. One way - just get books standing up in the shelves and leave it at that, OR you could organize your books according to subject/relevance and/or size. Either way, you will create a better looking bookshelf than what it was before. Any empty space could always be left open for more books or filled with your pictures, awards, or those awesome office trinkets.
Now on to what I think is the hardest part - the Maybe bin. These are the things that you weren't sure whether you should keep or not. My best advice - keep and file the papers that you could see yourself needing in the next 6 months. The rest of the paperwork you could:
1.) Create a file or a box and keep in drawer or storage space that isn't used in your immediate workspace/office.
2.) Scan and save it on your computer.
3.) Trash it.
This is your preference. As far as the other items that aren't paperwork, use the same six month rule. Keep it if you will need it in the next 6 months and store it appropriately or get rid of it.
HOLY COW - LOOK AT YOUR OFFICE!!!!!!!!!!
Doesn't that feel good!! Don't you feel like you can now be more effective with your precious time??!!! I think now would be a great time to dig into that candy you have kept a steady supply of and reward yourself. Sit back, eat your candy, and look around at the wonderfully clean and organized office you just created.
OH CRAP....that bin of non-office items is still in the hallway....Yeah, that can wait....... ;-)