My wife and I differ in how we experience the orderliness of our home. She likes to make sure every visible room used for entertaining to be picked up and tidy. Leaving storage spaces to have everything else inside without organization.
While it is important for the rest of our house is tidy and clean, I struggle with storage spaces being a place where everything is thrown into them without order. Mostly because when I go looking for something I likely will not find it easily. And this makes any project I am doing take longer.
I feel this way about my workspace organization too.
It terrifies me to see storage spaces packed full of random things. The idea of a “junk drawer” is a hard one for me to understand because if it is junk, it should be in the garbage.
Many of my super productive coworkers are very organized at their desks. When it comes to supplies and filing, they know where everything is and they always put everything back.
I have found two main focuses for workspace organization:
Supplies and filing.
When we are a hot mess on a regular basis, our work suffers. We become unproductive and start to experience exhaustion, depression, and mental fog which keeps us from doing our best work.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Why We Need to Be Organized
At my desk, whether at work or at home, I keep everyday supplies close at hand and in order. This way everything is quick and easy to access so I am not spending extra time trying to find things.
We need to be organized at work in order to move from task to task quickly, effectively, and focused in order to get all of our work done.
And I have developed a system which helps a ton in staying organized and increasing our productivity.
№1 — Remove Every Item from Your Desk
We first need to decide what we actually need. There are many things we all keep at our desk but never use. It is important to remove everything and go through the things which we don’t use.
№2 — Top Drawer Items
There are work items that I use every day. Items like rubber bands, pens, highlighters, notepads, sticky notes, staplers, etc. If you use them on a regular basis, once a day, keep them in the top drawer for easy access.
№3 — Middle Drawer Items
This is where I keep things that are not regularly used, less than once. These are items like tape, large envelopes, binder clips, sharpies, and such. They are close by and orderly, but I don’t use them all the time so they don’t qualify for the top drawer.
№4 — Desk Top
I keep a jar full of pens on my desk for quick access as I am always jotting down notes throughout the day. Otherwise, I don’t store much on my desk.
№5 — Bottom Drawer
If I don’t use something more than once a week, it goes in the bottom filing drawer. This is about as random as a drawer gets for me. These items are nearby, but not typically used.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed by Cleaning
Our organization system does not need to be crazy, just focused on what we use daily, and what we use a few times a week. Once you know what those things are, organize your desk with those items in mind.
It will help make it easy to move from one task to the next and keep you moving without getting sidetracked looking for the paper clips.
How Do You Keep Your Files
This is one of the most important systems for work at home and work. When it comes to filing information, it is essential for quick reference. There are two specific filing areas I keep track of digital and paper.
For my digital filing, I use two systems. Folders on my computer and programs like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. And I suggest everyone subscribe to these systems to keep track of everything they have digitally.
First, the only information which goes into folders is specific projects. Start with one large folder for the year, “2019,” and then keep each main project under this folder.
For example, right now on my computer I have a “2019 folder,” and within it you can find folders for my Life Plan and Goals, Book Projects I am working on, and anything related to my blog. The key is to easily find them in the future.
If something rolls over year after year, only take the most recent information to the new year’s folder. Anything unworked in the last three months stays behind in the previous year’s folder.
Second, using programs like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote to keep track of referencing information is essential. Both programs allow you to quickly search for information, however, if kept organized under topics, you can quickly find what you are looking for too.
I use OneNote at work to keep track of every important process we use as well as templates, canned response letters and emails, and important information I use throughout the day. This way, if someone needs something, or I need to use something quick I can pop into OneNote and complete the task within two minutes easily.
At home and with my personal projects I use Evernote. It has phone apps, computer apps, and a web app. And like my OneNote at work, I keep important reference information about our home, my side projects, and templates for blogging and writing.
These systems are essential to keep on top of everything digitally.
First, try to keep paper to a minimum. If you must have paper documents, try to keep it all in one filing box or drawer in a filing cabinet. Try and do this at work too. It is amazing how much easier it is to find information when you have less to go through.
Now, going paperless is not always possible. So when you have things which require paper, I have a simple system which I picked up from David Allen and his book Getting Things Done:
- Start with one folder at the front of everything labeled: Action Items.
- One folder behind this one labeled: Someday.
- And then create folders are which are alphabetized. This is all the organization we need with paper.
Action items are for things which you need to take action on, things like bills or contracts. Someday can be for reading articles or reviewing something you received by paper. The alphabetized folders are for ALL other references.
When in alphabetical order, you will be able to find anything. And the two folders in the front help with processing tasks and mail which come in on a regular basis. Sort through these two front folders once a week. Typically at the beginning of the week.
At work, our alphabetized folders help ourselves and our coworkers find everything we need in a quick moment. I never spend more than 30 seconds looking for a file in my cabinet because it is clearly marked and quick to reference.
This simple paper filing system will save you time and energy when it comes to looking up items you need to reference quickly.
Why Organization Matters
All of this matters because we need to access things quickly to move from task to task with efficiency. If our files and supplies are organized, we can save ourselves so much trouble and wasted time when we need to use them.
And efficiency is a bit part of productivity success. Our organization also helps to reduce stress levels when it comes to finding important things. So tomorrow morning when you go to your office, schedule an hour and get organized.