Before I start, I want to make clear that I don’t consider this an exhaustive list.
It’s simply a list of office organization tips I’m thinking about now, and that will doubtless change.
That’s because I think about office organization a lot. It’s one of my favorite things. I’ve even been known to wander around an Office Depot on Memorial Day weekend, eying the office products and feeling totally content.
These are some of my current concerns:
Clean or messy? – This is the “boxers or briefs” question for those who work in offices. Do you prefer a desk as uncluttered as an innocent mind, or do you like to have everything in reach? I used to think it was a good idea to leave works in progress out and about, so I wouldn’t forget about them, but I recently read about a study in which researchers found that seeing reminders of past failures strewn about an office had an unfortunate effect on productivity. I think seeing a raft of uncompleted tasks might be even more unfortunate – and contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed – so I’m working on a better approach.
Touch once, toss often – You’ve probably heard that standard time management tip about only touching a piece of paper once. It’s a sound one, because I’m convinced that paper has metastasizing properties. I think we should expand this tip to include electronic communications. How many e-mails do you have cluttering up your in-box for no apparent reason? I’d tell you how many I have, but it’s embarrassing. File your e-mails or delete them.
A simple filing system – I think some people are reluctant to file their papers because they’re secretly afraid they won’t be able to find them again once they’re out of sight. A simple filing system can alleviate those concerns. Just like accounting, good filing system depends on giving things the right name. Once you’ve named your folder, I’ve found this rule of thumb helpful – always put the most recent documents on top. You’d be surprised how much that simplifies things.
Reminders – This is the one that gives me the most trouble. I’d like to say it’s because I have too much to do, but maybe it’s just because I have a hard time sticking with a plan – even one I’ve devised. With my semi-clear desk and my paper problem at least in remission, I can get distracted and not tackle the tasks I should. I try making calendars and timelines and placing them around my office, sometimes using magnets. I write things down in my calendar. I use my computer calendar to remind me with beeps and other amusing sounds. Sometimes this works, but I’m always on the lookout for ways to make it work better.
So I’m asking you – whether you have a tidy and organized office or not – how do you remind yourself of what you should be doing in a given day or week?
Thanks for the tips!
by Danielle Dresden