It happens to everybody: in spite of your best efforts to keep your work space neat and organized, eventually you’ll find yourself facing a mess and unable to locate anything. Some might take it as a sign that you’re busy, but in truth such work space clutter will hamper your productivity and reduce your ability to get done what needs to be done in a timely manner.
These helpful tips should allow you to reduce the amount of clutter on your desk and keep everything looking tidy, allowing you to get everything you need to get done completed on time.
Create a Filing System
For starters, all that loose paperwork needs a place for quick retrieval later. Starting up a filing system will allow you to instantly access important paperwork because you’ll know exactly where it is. How you organize this filing system would be based on the needs of your specific job. If you frequently need to refer to specific document types but don’t remember the titles well, then a category based system would work best. This way you can remember approximately where it is before you start scrounging the desk. If you frequently find yourself needing to pull specific documents, then an alphabetical system is ideal. You might also experiment with other systems as well – the point is to make sure that when you need something, you know exactly where you put it.
Inboxes and Outboxes
Keeping a stack of paperwork you have to fill out, complete, or otherwise demands your attention, is a good way to serve as a reminder that there is work left to do. Having an outbox of completed documentation you need to send off also serves as a reminder of how much you have done already and allows you to quickly retrieve requested documentation that needs to be turned in. Be sure to keep the most time sensitive documents at the top of the stack and set aside a certain time each day or week to tackle your inbox in order to make the most of your time and focus.
Create a To-Do List
Rather than simply depend on your memory, only to have it fail and leave you frantically comparing due dates to figure out what needs to be done first, keep a to-do list of tasks that need to be completed somewhere visible on your desk. This could be in the form of a physical notepad or set up on your Outlook or other office applications – even using Microsoft Notepad as a ‘to-do’ list can serve to keep yourself organized and productive. This can also help to save space by preventing all of your urgent work stacking up out in the open lest you forget that they need to be done.
Electronic Documents Storage
The viability of creating an electronic storage system (if it’s not already available) will largely depend on workplace policies and procedures and how well networked the office actually is. While such storage systems require their own system of organization to allow for easy access, it can be very effective for keeping your desk clutter free. Recommending that important paperwork be e-mailed to you will help to save time that would normally have to be spent scanning the documentation in. If you’re in a position to do so, invest in servers where all important documents, memos, paperwork, and work assignments can be stored. There are also cloud storage systems like Dropbox and Google Drive that are also very useful if a server isn’t an option. Such a measure will pay off in the long run by saving time on having to run documentation from one place to another by hand or running off copies on a sometimes faulty office copier.
Related to the above, an electronic fax can save a lot of space by obviating the need for a large, archaic fax machine on an office desk. Electronic faxing services allow you to fax information as easily as sending an e-mail. Employing such a service is essential for situations where you have a PDF copy of a document that needs to be sent, but the receiving party requires a hard copy for whatever reason. Using an electronic fax system saves you time by no longer requiring you to print out the document and then send the fax… or wait in line if it happens to be a busy office fax.
By taking a little time to organize, and following this basic advice, you can save space and, in the long run, save hours of time that would normally be spent hunting down documents in a cluttered desk or picking up paperwork that got accidentally scattered or waiting on unnecessary print jobs. For those in management positions – encouraging these practices will also help to improve workplace efficiency and productivity in the long run.
This article was written by Brennen Kliffmueller. From a young age, it was clear Brennen was slightly OCD and now he is an organization king. He is always finding new ways to streamline his daily tasks and work as a content creator for FindAFax. To view more of Brennen’s work, visit his Google+.