With a heavy workload that includes an overstuffed e-mail inbox, chaotic workspace, and piles upon piles of paperwork, it’s easy to get bogged down in the clutter that a day at the office creates. When your desk is a mess, it’s difficult to know where to begin your day. A clean desk helps you feel in control no matter what’s unexpectedly thrown at you. And, as a leader, it’s important to set the standard of organization and efficiency you expect from your employees. Overlooking a deadline or an assignment because it’s buried somewhere deep in your office can become a hazard to your productivity and to your company.
If the sight of all the mess threatening to swallow your desk has you breaking out in a cold sweat, now’s the perfect time to dust off your workspace for a fresh and sparkly clean start, just in time for spring.
Not sure where to begin? Clean the clutter in your office with these quick tricks.
Your desk. If you’re having trouble finding your desk underneath the piles of files, papers, and to-do lists, set some time in your day to reorganize the papers into three divisions: action, file, and trash. And, don’t be afraid to put things in the trash pile. If a news article has been sitting on your desk for the last month, chances are you’re not going to read it, so muster up the courage to throw it away.
After you’ve organized everything into piles, quickly dump the trash pile and don’t look back.
Next, tackle the action pile with the strength of Mr. Clean. Organize it by order of importance. But, also take into consideration how long an action will take to complete. If the action item is merely sending a reply e-mail, stop what you’re doing and respond to get it off your list. Assign tasks to others if they can help get items off your plate, so you can move on to other matters.
You may not be able to get everything taken care of in a short amount of time, but organizing the information into manageable piles will help you clearly see your next step and get you on the road to a mess free desk that glistens with the victory of organization and productivity.
A crammed e-mail inbox is often the most overwhelming space to clean. But, it’s also one of the easiest to clean. If you’re getting alerts on a daily basis that your inbox is full, it’s time for drastic measures. It might be frightening, but you have to hit delete. Don’t waste your valuable time reviewing every message. Instead pick a date, preferably within the last six months and delete everything before it.
It sounds scary, but if you haven’t used it in the last six months, chances are you won’t. At the very least, drag all your past e-mails to an archive folder, so you can start fresh. After you’ve deleted older e-mails, sort them by size or name and delete what you don’t need. Once you’ve deleted enough e-mails to leave your inbox in a manageable state, create a procedure you can follow every day to keep it that way. Bill Jensen, author of the Simplicity Survival Handbook: 32 Ways to Do Less and Accomplish More, advises readers to scan e-mails for actions they must take and dates and deadlines, within the next two to three weeks. If a message does not have an action and a deadline, delete it to eliminate a large amount of unnecessary e-mails and time wasters. Learn to scan your e-mails, and be disciplined and consistent about it. This will keep you up-to-date on the day’s work and prevent your inbox from bursting at the seams.
If you still have a rolodex, bravely go where many have gone before you. Add your rolodex contacts to a computer program like Microsoft Outlook or Access. Your contact information will be easy to find and always at your fingertips. But don’t spend a lot of time inputting your contacts. Instead, input only your frequently used contacts and toss the others. With internet access, most contacts are just an online search away.
Your desk drawers.
A graveyard of half-used pens, business cards, lost paper clips, and uneaten breakfast bars, there’s no telling what clutter monsters are lurking in your desk. Brave the dust bunnies and ink spills and eliminate as much of the trash as possible. Add business cards you find there to the contact information on your computer, and throw away the physical card. Toss out used pens, and keep only three or four pens with caps in your drawer. And, using desk organizers is a great way to get organized and keep your drawers spic and span.
When you’re busy managing employees and leading your team, it’s easy to overlook the daily task of organization. But, clutter and disorder can wreck havoc on clear thinking and productivity. So, when you’re ready to spring clean, try these tricks to get your space in shape for a refreshing and energizing environment that promotes efficiency and serenity. Since most of your time is spent at the office, decluttering your workspace is well worth the effort.