Whether at home or work, the office is one of the most important spaces. In short, it’s where you get things done. But organizing that space (and keeping it organized) is a challenge for many, who find themselves surrounded by desk tornadoes, sticky notes and too many to-do lists.
Organizing your office day begins with an organized space, one that feels ready for work. Here are some things to consider about your home or work office:
- Your desk should be large enough to accommodate you comfortably. While some people prefer a large desk surface so they can spread out, this may not be an option for you. If it is, wonderful. If not, keep in mind that it’s best to have at least a few feet of flat surface from which to work — separate from your computer.
- At home, it’s OK to improvise. While it’s tempting to sit on the couch with a laptop to pay the bills, it is better to work from some hard surface. You may not have the space for a separate home office, so it’s fine to use the dining room table or a mini office created inside your hall closet. Just be sure you assign a space where you handle bills, mail or any other life business.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your boss for a new office chair if yours does not feel comfortable. Ergonomics are very important not just for productivity but for your eye, wrist and back health.
- At home, your space may not accommodate a large desk chair, but you can borrow a dining room chair if your life’s business does not take a long time. Employ cushions and pillows if needed to help you sit up straight.
- Keep office supplies handy. At home, this might mean a rolling cart that you pull into the dining room if you don’t have a desk.
- Experiment with different trays. Many offices are cutting back on paper use, but if you have some papers, look at an office supply store for different ways to store them. While flat, stackable trays are popular, visual people may find it easier to use trays that hold folders/files up for them to see the labels.
- Be sure your filing cabinet has at least two drawers that pull out all the way so you don’t have to dig in the back for items.
- If you can, use a label maker so that your file names are clear and easy to read.
- Another neat filing trick: refold manila folders so that the tab is in front. That way, when you pull the tab toward you, the folder naturally opens.
- Consider your lighting. Many offices supply fluorescent lighting overhead and there may not be a way to change it. Plug in a desk lamp for some added light to reduce eye strain and create a warmer atmosphere.
- For added atmosphere, consider adding art, a rug, a plant or other items that inspire your comfort and productivity. Bear in mind that too many items on your desk or in your space may feel cluttered and overwhelming.
- Start fresh. Walking into an organized office is more likely to prompt feelings of readiness. Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to put things away, straighten your files, dust your phone and more. Although it sounds tedious to some, it can be a low-brain-wave task at the end of the day that leaves you with a feeling of closure before you depart.
- Too many sticky notes? Take a moment to re-read some of them. (Hint: if they are dusty, it’s time to toss.) Can that information be stored elsewhere? For example, login information can be gathered into a document or address book. Reminders can be removed and put on your calendar. Contact information can be put into your paper or electronic address book.
- Need a break from work? Take two to five minutes to straighten the top of your desk, putting away the items you’re no longer using.
- Hate filing? Keep a “to file” pile on your desk. After each task you complete, file two items from that pile. Small doses can make it seem less onerous.