Everyone has his or her own unique method for getting work done, right? Some of us like to keep our files in alphabetical order, while others prefer to keep them chronologically. No matter what type of system we design, there are two questions we need to ask ourselves to determine if it’s working:
1) Am I able to find things when I need it?
2) Do I get things done before they’re due?
If you answered ‘no’ to either one of these questions, then your systems need to be improved ASAP! The best way to start is by de-cluttering your work area and getting rid of anything that doesn’t belong there. Starting with your desk….
Typically, the desk is the heart of our work environment. A chaotic desk makes it very difficult to be productive. The most important factor is space: at least 50% of your desk should be visible when its not being used. This allows you to get work done without feeling crowded and uneasy. Never use your desk as a storage area. Books, papers, and other items that you don’t need immediately or use on a regular basis should be filed away or recycled (not piled high until you get around to it! Do it now!)
Once your desk is cleared of everything you don’t need, take the time to assess the items that are left. Our goal is to make everything as easily accessible as possible. If you have loose papers that you need to keep on hand, invest in stackable trays that you can place directly on top of the desk. RESERVE these trays only for items that require immediate action or will need in the near future. Everything else should be filed away appropriately. Designate each tray for specific needs (ie: Bills to be Paid, Forms to be filed, etc.) and most importantly, stick to the system! Never place a piece of paper in the tray with the intention to “get to it later” just because you don’t feel like dealing with it in that moment – this leads to a build up of clutter that can take hours to clear down the road, costing you time, money, and your sanity. Trust me, it’s an endless cycle so just start creating new habits NOW! It gets easier, I promise!