A cluttered office or desk wastes your time, and that costs you productivity and money. Here are 8 ways to declutter your office and desk and keep them neat and organized.
Do you wish you could find a way to declutter your office? Do you feel like you’re buried under a mound of paper by the end of the day? If so, join the crowd. The average office worker in the US spits out about 400 paper documents each month. Where does it all go?
If you’re eyeing your office with dismay, chances are the paper is on top of your desk. And in the hutch over your desk . . . and next to the printer. . . and maybe on top of the filing cabinet.
What can you do to put an end to the clutter when paper, sticky notes, and other objects seem to clone themselves when you’re not looking? Here are 6 ways to declutter your office.
1) Start with a plan
Sort through and categorize the papers on your desk. Consider which you’ll need close at hand, which you need to save only for archival value and what you can read and toss. Give each of those categories of paper a “home.” Make a list of your categories if necessary so you remember whether proposal samples get filed under “Samples” or under “Proposals”. Store that list on your computer – and resist the temptation to print it out!
2) Start with the filing cabinet, not the desk
The rationale for that is simple. If you don’t have an orderly system for filing papers – and room in your filing cabinet to put those files – you’ll never get your desk cleaned. Toss out old files and review your overall system. Set up your filing system so files you need regularly are near at hand. Consider color-coding to group similar files together and make them easily identifiable. Move files you don’t need often to an out-of-the-way location.
3) Divide and Conquer
Don’t try to clean up the entire office in one day. The secret to getting your office organized and keeping it organized is to break the process down into steps and tackle one step at a time. For instance, start with one drawer in your filing cabinet if you don’t have time today to go through all the drawers. Schedule time tomorrow to go through another draw, and so forth. If decluttering your desk seems overwhelming, start with one corner. (An overflowing inbox might be a good place to start.)
4) Print Fewer Documents
If you’re in the habit of printing things out to read them or file them, stop and think before you print. If you need a printed version of something for safekeeping, is what you’re about to print out likely to be the finished version of the document? A sales manager at a company wanted to keep track of customer correspondence about their orders, so she printed out each one of their emails and filed it. If there were several emails back an forth she printed each one of those out, too. Since each of those emails was also stored on her computer, and sales records were stored in an online database, there was no need to print any of the emails.
5) File Regularly
Don’t let things sit around for days. Get in the habit of putting papers away as soon as you are done with them. Use the last 15 minutes of your workday to tidy up your desk and get it ready for the following morning. Also, think seriously before keeping a piece of paper. Will you really need it for the future? If it’s readily available on your computer, you might be better off throwing it away.
6) Get Cables Under Control
Monitor cables, phone chargers, power cords – all these cables can add to the visual chaos at your desk. You can opt for a simple solution, like running cables behind your desk and zip tying them together so they stay in a clean bundle, or you can purchase some type of cable management solution like neoprene sleeves that completely hide cables while still allowing you to easily access them. Don’t forget about those spare charging bricks, power cords, and adapters, either. Rather than having them loose in a drawer, bundle each cord up neatly and secure it with a velcro strap, then place them all in a designated drawer or box for when you need them.
7) Purchase Space-Making Products
There are a slew of space-making products available now that can help you organize your desk for efficiency. Among them are handsome wooden trays with partitions for holding pens, cell phone, tablet and other paraphernalia that accumulates on your desk; rolling file cabinets that fit under your desk and multitiered in-baskets. And don’t forget the best space-maker of all: the wastebasket. Keep that close at hand and use it frequently.
8) Get Rid of Things You Aren’t Using
Are you hanging onto some reams of 3-hole copy paper that someone ordered by mistake? What about old magazines, or old phone books? Do you have an old, non-working printer taking up space because you haven’t gotten around to recycling it yet? Getting rid of things you don’t use is an easy way to declutter your office.