Organization isn’t just for being more comfortable in your works-pace, but it improves work-habits and overall productivity.
There is no underestimating the role an organized office plays in your peace of mind and greater success. Even now, with productivity conversations revolving around digital storage and electronic solutions, paper piles still run rampant on desktops across the globe. With these piles, tangled cords and ignored file drawers comes an underlying sense of anxiety and weight. When I work with clients to organize their physical space and create reliable systems, they almost all say, “It feels like a weight has been lifted!”
Even if you don’t spend much time in your office each week, this room is still an extension of you. If you spend many hours a week in your office, this environment affects everything that is produced in it. Organizing the office starts ripple effects that bring a sense of calm and order to countless other areas of life. Organizing matters. With some simple steps, you can start without touching a single piece of paper:
1. Know your vision.
Before working with clients, I have them write down a list of 10 things they will do once their office is organized. Common answers I see are “get a life,” “delegate more” and “take a vacation.” Organizing is never just for the sake of having a clear desk. Until you know the real reason why order matters to you, it will always feel like hard work.
2. Group with the like.
There is a reason why this step comes before the big purge. Knowing that tossing is a challenge for many people, I like to start with what’s easy. Putting like with like should be as simple as it sounds. You can put writing tools together, financial statements together or receipts together. It doesn’t matter where you choose to start. The secret is that during this process, the junk starts to reveal itself without you even looking for it.
3. Toss and Recycle
For a motivated client, this is step one. For most though, steps one and two make this much easier. There is no way around it. Set a timer and make it a goal to fill X number of bags or clear X amount of space. Do whatever it takes to make room for only the things that are beautiful or useful. And heaven forbid, never buy new organizing supplies or containers before completing this step.
4. Label new categories.
There’s magic in deciding on the perfect label name. It doesn’t matter how long or silly it sounds, as long as you can remember what you called it. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else, unless others need to access your files. Don’t be too vague or too specific. Too vague is a folder called “statements” with three accounts and 10 years inside. Too specific is a folder called “meeting notes from May 3, 2013.”
5. Find permanent homes for categories.(Create systems)
You only can do this once you know what you are keeping and how much space it requires. Let common sense be your guide. If you are only keeping something “just in case,” such as old records, it doesn’t need to take up valuable real estate under your desk.
They don’t always go in this exact order, but each step is crucial for lasting results. There are no rules on how much time to spend on each step. Just focus on one at a time, and allow yourself to take as much or as little time as you need. For some, this takes hours; for others, months. The sooner you start, though, the sooner you finish. If you don’t start now, a year from now you will have wished you had started a year ago.
Kacy Paide is an office organizing expert with The Inspired Office.