FREE WEBINAR: Clutter? How to Organize Your Workspace. Clutter is at the root of avoidance, procrastination, distraction and indecision. And, it stands squarely between you and the success you want to accomplish. You allow clutter into your life when you delay making a decision about what you should do with a specific project, file, task, and every piece of paper that crosses your desk.
Tuesday, June 6th
11:00am to 12:00pm CST
Facilitated by Allyson Lewis
Followed by 30 Minutes Q&A
The Cost of Clutter in the Workplace
A story in the Dec. 8, 2002, business section of The Wall Street Journal stated:
“The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information on messy desks and in files. Every lost piece of paper costs a business $120. In fact, 15 percent of all paper handled in businesses is lost and thirty percent of all employees’ time is spent trying to find lost documents.”
To organize your mind and your physical workspace you need a plan of action. Like any goal that you are serious about accomplishing you need to create a written plan of action that you are willing to commit to accomplishing by a certain deadline.
One of the first problems in cleaning up the clutter is finding the time. There will never be any additional hours in the day, however — you might remind yourself how much time you are currently wasting looking for lost documents and files — 6 weeks a year is a lot of time to lose. Once you recognize how much more productive you will be in a clean work environment, you simply need to schedule a series of appointments on your calendar.
You are already setting written appointments in your calendar for activities you consider to be important. You schedule set times to meet with clients, go to doctor’s appointments attend staff meetings and various social events. Here are 5 ways to organize your desk:
1. Organize Your Desk
I recommend that you start with the clutter you can see and make sure that you have a giant trash can available for this task. I have read that even the size of your trash can impacts how much you are willing to throw away. The bigger the trash can the easier it is to use. The smaller the trash can, the more hesitant we become to throw things away. Psychologically you want to make it as simple as possible to make a decision to focus on tending to each item or be willing to chunk it.
The time you have set to get rid of the clutter is not the time to try to tend to every task that you come across. In order to gain some momentum, as you touch each file or piece of paper you need to make one of three possible decisions.
- You no longer need it–throw it away.
- There is no action needed, but you need the paper–then file it.
- There is action that still needs to occur, if so schedule a written appointment with yourself on your calendar to finish the action–then, file the paper.
The same is true for the stack of papers under your desk. For many people, the stack under the desk includes the papers that you knew from the beginning were probably trash and you would likely never get to them, but you just couldn’t decide to throw them away. However, as you look at these periodicals and memos with a fresh glance (or look at the date and realize they are more than a year old) you now feel a freedom to put it in your trash can.
2. Organize Your Drawers
Designate specific drawers for specific uses. Your tape, ruler and scissors should have a specific location, in fact high level organizing is making sure everything has a home. You can easily improve your productivity by making sure you have all the needed office tools in just the right spots.
If you are responsible for repetitive activities, create checklists for as many of these as you can and make sure you keep these current checklists, forms, applications and necessary documents in a convenient drawer.
3. Organize Your Files
One of the key places to increase efficiency and reduce clutter is to really focus on cleaning up and purging the files in your personal workspace area.
According to Imagetag.com of the total eight hours wasted per week in paper document management, we spend one hour finding documents, one hour with difficulty in sharing documents, one hour in distribution/storage and half an hour in archiving and retrieval of documents.
Cleaning out filing areas can seem overwhelming. Therefore, you may wish to focus on organizing only one filing draw at a time. You will need:
- A box of new file folders
- A box of new hanging file folders if needed
- Labels (or, better yet, a professional label maker)
Start at the beginning of the drawer and pull each file one at a time and literally go through each piece of paper. If you discover actions that need to be tended to, schedule time on your calendar. If you find irrelevant paper, throw it away. Better yet, if you no longer need the file and it doesn’t need to be archived–throw the entire file away. If the file is necessary, but could use a new file folder-stop and label a brand new file and transfer the contents.
Organizing your files will take the most time, yet it will offer many of the largest emotional rewards:
- You will clear out physical space as you clean out the files
- You will be reminded of revenue generating opportunities to follow up on
- You will be inspired by new marketing ideas that you had months or years ago that you now have the time to institute with your team
- You will be able to rest easier at night knowing that there is nothing lurking in a file that has not been addressed and completed.
4. Organize Your Computer
Your computer is another area of clutter and disorganization. Part of the problem with cleaning up your computer is that you may have to ask someone with additional technical skills to help you clean up your computer files. Prepare ahead of time by enlisting any technical assistance you may require.
You can certainly make sure that your files are properly backed up, and you can clean up your e-mail address box. If you can reply quickly to the e-mail, do so, but if your e-mail response will take some time–simply schedule an appointment on your calendar with yourself to complete the task.
5. Organize your Mental Clutter
You can see when physical clutter begins to crowd into your life. However, while you are focusing on getting rid of the clutter, plan to schedule time to organize all of the ideas, thoughts, goals and unfinished tasks that are continuously circling through your subconscious mind. We call this mental clutter and it can be overwhelming. In business, it is easy to feel like you have so many projects and tasks to do that you don’t know where to start. Download our Mental Clutter Worksheet.
One way to work through your mental clutter is to handle it the same way you do the physical papers on your desk. You will take out a piece of paper and list every single item that crosses your mind. You don’t need to deal with each item right now; you just need to record all of these ideas in one safe location. Write down everything on your list–the letters you need to write, the projects you need to plan, the staff meetings you need to attend, the research you need to read, all the way down to dentist appointments you need to make, to the birthday presents you need to buy, to the library book you need to return.
Once you have your list of all of the unfinished tasks in your life, you can begin to create a plan for cleaning them up as well.
Clutter, procrastination, unfinished projects, poorly designed workflow systems and an overflow of paper are some of the common organizational issues that many people share. Creating a clean, organized work space is the point of this article. Visit my website to download our Clean Sweep Checklist. This checklist should merely serve as a starting point for simplifying and improving your daily work environment. The key will be to set a regular time on your calendar to spend one hour per week staying organizing and keeping your work space clean.