As the old saying goes a clutter desk equals a cluttered mind. But sometimes it is difficult to create order in a chaotic work environment.
“It’s so important to have a clutter free and stylish work space because you spend more time here than you do anywhere else,” says Sayeh Pezeshki, CEO/Founder of Sorting with Style. “Studies have shown that we actually spend more time in a day working than we do sleeping and more time at the office (or workspace) than we do in our own homes. You will notice a difference in the way you feel while you work if you make changes to a dull, messy uninspiring workspace.”
Get Clutter Free
”When you’re working in a cluttered environment, it can be difficult, not to mention stressful, deciding where to begin. It’s one of the main reasons people call on a professional organizer like me! I generally recommend that clients start with their immediate workspace – their desk. It’s one of the smallest areas in your office, but organizing it can have the biggest impact,” says Suzanne Willett, owner, Clutterninja, LLC.
Organizing & Productivity Expert Helene Segura, a certified professional organizer, agrees. Take a few easy steps at first, she says. “Have a large trash can, recycling bin and shredder located nearby; designate a specific area or container for the safe-keeping of current action papers that you come across; set up boxes – one for each year – for papers that need to be archived,” she suggests.
Next, tackle your desk. “Divide it up into squares, like a checkerboard. You can do this figuratively in your mind, or you can physically use string. Sort through one “square” at a time,” advises Segura. “Once you finish your desktop, you can move to one drawer at a time. If your office needs de-cluttering as well, you can work your way around the room in the same fashion.”
When going through the papers on your desk, says Sayeh Pezeshki, CEO/Founder of Sorting with Style, suggests “to start with the three pile system: Toss, Keep, Maybe. Go through everything that’s sitting in piles on your desk and separate them into three piles. You can do this quickly and once you get through the Toss file, you can tackle the Maybe pile to decide what to do with it. The Keep file should be filed or put away right away.”
Personalize Your Space
Okay, now your office is clutter free. Decorate, but don’t add much more in term of personal effects. “Every item on your desktop except for 1-2 personal items (framed photos, etc.) should be products you can use,” says Segura. “It depends on the rules of the firm you work for,” offers Janet M. Taylor, senior lifestyle architect. “I believe simple frames and colorful containers that can also organize items in the workspace will provide a stylish personal effect. I, for example, use small glass spice jars to contain my paperclips and a black decorative toothbrush holder to store pens and pencils.”
The simpler the better, says Eileen Roth, professional organizer, speaker and author of Organizing For Dummies. “Clear your desk of anything you do not use on a daily basis. (except for equipment like a calculator or printer). Remove any pictures, decorative items, knick knacks or distracting items from your main work area (desk). If there are too many in your office, remove most of them,” she explains. “Pictures can be hung on walls (even cubicle walls). Decorative items that are not useful can be placed on top of a filing cabinet or bookcase. Most advertising specialty items that are not practical (like memo pads or pens) should be tossed. Limit desk items, i.e. too many pens, highlighters, paper pads, staples, paper clips, etc. You only need one box of 5000 staples, not 2 or 3.”
Make every item functional. “Adding your own personal style while keeping a clutter-free environment is easier now with the plethora of stylish office supplies that express your personal style while providing function,” says Willett.
“Keeping things organized is a crucial component of efficiency and sanity. Three necessary items for staying organized are a desktop organizer, a categorized email inbox, and a drawer organizer,” says Tony Ellison, CEO at e-retailer Shoplet.com. “The desktop organizer should sit on top of a desk, or hang over the side of your workstation and only hold documents that are necessary for fast retrieval, and current projects. I cannot stress enough the importance of inbox maintenance. This means deleting unwanted messages regularly, and placing messages you would like to save into labeled folders within your inbox. Drawer organizers are handy, often overlooked tools. Placing one in your drawer allows you to separate and organize items into compartments so that you need not sift through a chaotic mess while retrieving your breath mints.”
Stay Clutter Free
Once you’ve cleared all the clutter, you’ll want to keep everything in order. “Use the five-minute clean up rule at the end of the day,” says Segura. “Spend the last five minutes of the day putting things away and re-arranging your desk so that when you walk in first thing in thing the morning, it’s ready for you to start working. The last thing you want to do is walk into a mess. Trust me when I say it really affects your work day,” she says.
“Sort through the papers on your desk. File what can be filed, toss what can be tossed and give yourself deadlines about actionable items,” adds Tracy McCubbin, de-clutter expert and founder of dClutterfly. “Don’t go more than two days without opening mail or interoffice memos. One of the biggest causes of office clutter is over printing. Before you hit “print”, ask yourself … do I really need a hard copy of this? Can I file it electronically or find it again if I need to?” she adds.