The other day I offered a few time management hacks that included advice about watching less television. I haven’t changed my outlook on what a time waster the old boob tube can be, but whenever I flip across one of those reality shows dedicated to cleaning out someone’s uncontrollably messy house, I can’t help but watch (especially with my dad who loves those shows).
Although the majority of us don’t have to sleep in a living room recliner because our beds are completely covered with dirty clothes, shopping bags, photo albums, and who knows what else (hey, haven’t you seen Hoarders?) but I’d have to guess that a lot of people reading this do have messy work areas. I know I’m guilty of it from time to time.
A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place
It doesn’t matter if your desk is in an actual office or you keep your computer in a corner of your kitchen: if your workspace is full of piles of paper, pens that no longer write, and so many Post-it notes that you can’t even read them all, you’re not going to get as much accomplished as you would if things were organized.
“But it’s organized clutter! I know where everything is!” is an argument that a lot of people have. Well, maybe, but try thinking of it this way. When you get dressed in the morning, you probably know which dresser drawer has your socks inside and which one has your pants.
Your shirts are most likely hanging in the closet, and I bet your shoes are in there, too. Getting dressed is usually a piece of cake because your clothes are all in their designated spots. (Unless you’re on Hoarders, of course.) If you treat your work area the way you treat your dresser and closet —if you actually put things in a proper place—you’d get things done more efficiently.
I had a professor in college who was notorious for keeping so many file folders and books piled on top of his desk that he’d wind up losing students’ term papers in the mix. He’d often hand back tests with a grade and a coffee cup ring. The guy was a genius, but he was a slob.
Your workspace should be organized to support the activities that you perform regularly. It should be a place where you can be creative, but it also needs to be set up so you can accomplish your routine tasks easily and efficiently.
Ideas for Organizing Your Workspace
This list is by no means conclusive, but the following ideas are a good start:
- Keep only the absolute essentials on top of your desk. This will probably include your computer and possibly your printer, a cup with a few pens, paper, and a stapler.
- If you need your phone for work, keep it within easy reach so you can answer it quickly.
- Keep a trashcan nearby so you lose the urge to hang on to papers you no longer need.
- If you’re going to decorate your workspace with photos, hang them on the walls or set them on a shelf away from your desk. Setting a bunch of frames on top of your desk only adds clutter.
- If your desk doesn’t have drawers— and a lot of modern glass-top desks do not—you can use a rolling file cabinet or a plastic storage bin with a few drawers to house supplies such as extra paper, rubber bands, highlighters, and file folders.
- Try to avoid eating lunch at your desk. Food at your desk can lead to crumbs and spills, like my professor with his coffee cups.
I know that space can be an issue for those of us who work from home (or from the road, as I’ve been doing this summer!) and everyone’s work situation / work area is unique, but I’ve found that I can think clearly and get much more accomplished when I keep things organized and have everything I need within reach.
If you’ve decided to tackle your own workspace, good luck with your efforts.
Be sure to let me know how it goes!Take Action. Get Results.