They say creative people have messier offices. That may be true but there comes a point when messiness impacts your productivity.
Indeed, a disorganized office can be a real-time drain. Hunting frantically for an important letter in stacks of paper can also be frustrating. Your office doesn’t have to look like a museum but if chaos is overwhelming you, it’s time for a strategy to set the office in order.
With that in mind, here are seven simple tips for getting—and keeping—your office organized.
1. Do a big purge:
The first step to ending the madness is to do a big purge. If you are a pack rat, get rid of all the magazines, papers and unnecessary material you’ve stored up on your desk and inbox trays. Even if you are not a pack rat, it’s likely that you have stacks of articles and letters you intend to read but will never even have time to skim. If it’s not vital, trash it. If you want to keep it, move it to a file folder marked “someday.”
2. Declutter your desktop:
It’s one thing to have stacks of papers on the top of a filing cabinet in document trays. It’s another for the clutter to be at your fingertips on your desktop. Even if you love a messy desk, too messy can stretch the limits of your creative need for chaos and cause confusion. Clearing the clutter off the desktop around you, especially in your line of sight, can help you prevent overwhelm.
3. Invest in a labeler:
This may sound old school, but it can save you a lot of time. You can get a digital labeler on Amazon for less than $50 that will help you organize bins, shelves, baskets, drawers and file folders.
4. Consider new desks and chairs—or rearrange your current set up:
A good chair can make working more comfortable. If you haven’t purchased a new chair in the last couple of years, now is the time to revisit your local office supply store. While you are there, take note of the layouts of office furniture and consider if there are new styles that would better suit your current needs—or new layouts. Where you put your trash can, your filing cabinets, and other items on your desk makes a difference.
5. Get a big wall calendar:
It might not be the prettiest part of your office, but a wall calendar can quickly help you see the big picture and avoid double-booking.
6. Set up digital systems:
If your e-mail inbox is a mess, take the time to create file folders by subject like you would in the physical world. That can make finding that random e-mail a lot easier. While you are at it, get a cloud-based system to back up your files. If your computer crashes, you’ll be glad you did!
7. Invest in storage boxes:
Not everything needs to go in your filing cabinet. Instead of investing in more cabinets, consider storage boxes for tax information, magazines you need to keep, or other info that you may only need to access once ever your or so—or even more seldom.