You spend 40-plus hours a week in your office, and you’re doing the jobs of two people. It’s no wonder that at the end of the week, you’re searching under piles of paper for your car keys and cell phone when it’s time to go home.
A clean office makes for a clear head, but who has time to organize with your workload? Setting up systems and sticking to them allows you to work smarter while you work harder. It also gives the impression that you’re on top of things when your boss makes an impromptu visit to your office. Who wants to leave her standing there while you shuffle through mounds of paperwork to find the one file folder she needs? Here are five tips to get you started.
File As You Go. One of the biggest office offenders is piles of paper — on your desk, on your shelves, and eventually on your floor. It’s easy to get busy and start stacking papers to file for later, but before you know it, you have a task that’s too big to tackle. The key is to process papers as you go. Set up a system of trays or file folders that are clearly labeled and make it a habit to use them. The same goes for your computer desktop
Clean Your Electronics. Hey you, with the food spattered monitor and keyboard full of crumbs. We know that you eat at your desk so you can work through lunch. And it certainly impresses your boss, but your co-workers are probably snickering about the week-old stroganoff stains. Fortunately, it’s a simple fix. Head to your local office supply store, pick up some wipes that are specifically made for electronics, and make it a point to wipe down your keyboard and monitor daily. Not only will it keep dust and debris from gumming up your computer, but it also helps keep germs at bay.
Declutter Your Desk. If you’re like many people, your desk probably acts as the kitchen table for your office. It’s the place where everything gets dropped, and pretty soon you have to dig to get to your computer. A clean desk will guarantee more productivity, but you’re already so busy trying to be productive, who has time to stop and clean? The key is to schedule it daily, and treat it like it’s a meeting you can’t miss. It helps if you minimize the tchotchkes and picture frames and only keep work essentials on, in and around your desk.
Assign a Place for Everything. The key to making cleaning your office easy is to put everything in its rightful place. So, this means that you need to assign a place for everything and label it clearly so you can find it in a pinch. Once you get in a habit of putting things away, decluttering becomes a quick task that’s second nature. This also means not filling up every single inch of storage. New items will come into play and need a place to live, so keep a few empty shelves or drawers to make room for the new.
Get Rid of Junk. The magnet business cards, the colorful array of cheap pens, the coffee cups, the calendars — all freebies that you just couldn’t say no to. Now, they’re strewn all over your desk. It may seem like stuff that’s useful, but really it’s just stuff that clutters up your space and makes you feel guilty for throwing it away. We know it’s hard to resist free swag, but learn to just say “no.”