Get Rid Of
That Messy Desk

Work can be frustrating. Can’t find where you filed that must-do outline for your next report to your manager? Is the highlight of your day forwarding a joke email to your mom and eating a mini Coffee Crisp bar from last Halloween that you’ve found at the back of your drawer? If so, it’s high time to re-group.

Messy Woman

Tips to organize your work space

All that clutter in your cubicle can cause stress and undermine your productivity. Organizing your desk – and work routine – will help you focus and function with ease. You may not even need that extra coffee to push you through the afternoon. Here are 10 desk-tidying and cubicle organizing tips to get you started.

1. Start thinking like an organized person

"The average human being in our society loses an hour a day due to disorganization," says Roman Fernando, a social studies teacher and tutor in California. "That's more than two weeks per year. That's a whole vacation."

As Fernando outlines in a seminar paper on organization, employers look for qualities, such as the abilities to multi-task, arrange priorities and meet or beat deadlines. Without organization, these qualities are difficult or impossible to demonstrate. "To become an organized person, you need to start thinking like one," he says.

2. Planning is worth the effort

Most people think that planning is a boring and time-consuming activity. Maybe so, but proper planning gives the overall picture of the task to be completed. It saves time in the long run. Day planners are the primary tools, helping you remember items on your schedule and providing you a means of tracking, so you look back on projects or meetings and see the outcomes. Day planners allow you to access information quickly and pull items together in a short amount of time.

3. Start small

Break large projects down into small, sequential steps and schedule these steps into your day with your planner. Spend no more than 30 minutes tackling an area. Think in terms of one area at a time: You're going to do one shelf, one file, or one box.

4. Streamline your supplies

Keep only supplies you need on a daily basis on top of your work area. Pare it all down, just as you'd spring clean your closets at home, and use the three Rs: reduce, refer, and rearrange. Discard the excess, duplicates and out-of-date items. Refer items that are no longer your responsibility to others, and rearrange whatever remains.

5. Stay motivated

Change your screen saver to an inspiring statement to keep you motivated and stay on course, such as "Just do it" (Nike brand marketing is brilliant, after all) or "Feel the fear and move ahead" or another statement that inspires you.

6. Communicate effectively

You may wonder how communication can help tidy up your desk, but concise and clear communication can cut down on paper messages, emails and time spent on the phone. Be clear when communicating to others, especially when leaving a message on voice mail or email. This way you are more likely to get a full response, even if the other party doesn't reach you directly.

7. Manage your time

In order to have a more organized, balanced work style, you need more time. We can't control how many hours are in a day, but successful people spend their time wisely. Figure out the tasks that need to be done and set an appropriate time in which to do them.

8. Don't put it down, put it away

In the end, it is always easier to put something away rather than set it down "for now." If you set a file or a box of folders down, you will have the second and third step of actually remembering that you need to find it and then to actually put it away.

9. File it, don't pile it

Create a filing system that works for you. Even a "to file" bin or folder is okay as long as you tend to it on a regular basis. In addition, open and process all mail. Don't let mail pile up – it can get out of hand just like any other paperwork.

10. Energize your work routine

Work can be a snore, but there are ways you can breathe new life into your daily grind. The change in routine will not only energize your brain and body, it will even readjust your attitude.

Here's how to energize the daily grind:

  • Get active. It helps to manage stress. Start a walking club, join your company's baseball team or take advantage of your company's corporate deal with the local gym.
  • Maximize your peak hours. If you are at your best in the early morning, don't waste your peak hours reading emails and Facebook status updates. Instead, start with a more substantial task that needs primed brain power.
  • On your break, go somewhere. Leave the office for 15 minutes to take a walk, get some fresh air, and clear your head. Getting out and physically moving shifts how your body works as well as your mental state.
  • Review your plans and set goals. Break down those overwhelming big goals into manageable milestones. Post them in your cubicle where you can see them; it will boost your confidence and give you a sense of purpose and direction.

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