Maximise Productivity: How to Organise your Workspace

Gone are the days of disorganised cubicles adrift in a storm of paper, post-its, and mysteriously-missing staplers as we hopelessly wonder how to organise such a whirlwind of clutter.

Luckily, we all now enjoy a totally paperless work environment, complete with ergonomic workspaces that support our spines and our productivity. Our desk tops and our desktops are clutter-free, everyone finishes projects ahead of schedule, and we all head to happy hour, arms linked in energetic merriment as we muse upon the wonder of another day’s work, fulfilled.

Wait a second…

Not quite there yet? Neither are we. But there are a few simple, cost-effective life hacks that will show you how to organise your workspace for maximum productivity, efficiency, and – dare we say it – enjoyment at work.

1. Ditch the desk

When considering how to organise your workspace, first make sure that the space you’re working with is ideal.

If you work in an office and the desk you’ve inherited isn’t cutting it, ask if there is anything better lying around. Better yet, head to Ikea and get yourself a new one. The company could reimburse you, or you can write the purchase off and take it with you when (if) you leave in the future.

Finally, is a desk really right for you? If you find yourself working from the couch, bed, or floor whenever you work from home, maybe you’re most productive when you’re comfortable. Not everyone needs the structure of a desk. Ask yourself what kind of workspace makes you feel the most focused, forgetting for a moment what the “right answer” is supposed to be.

2. The year test

Wondering how to organise your workspace when you’re hoarding mountains of stuff you “might need” someday? Set aside some time to go through absolutely everything in and around your workspace, and do The Year Test.

If you haven’t used it or looked at it in over a year, trash it. If it’s an important financial document or contract, scan it to your Shoeboxed account before chucking. While there may be a few things that need to be saved as hard copies, most documents – including tax documents – are perfectly acceptable in digital format.

Does it only have sentimental value? Keep it, but don’t let it take up valuable productivity space. Take it out of the drawer, take a picture or frame it for your workspace. You’ll appreciate some momentos to look at during your long days in the office.

3.  Too Good for Your Home?

Where does that stapler live? How about all of your physical media and files? Everything in your workspace should have a home. You can choose where things “live” based on how often you use them. Organise supplies you use multiple times a day in an easily-accessible desktop organizer. Keep supplies that are used less often in a bottom drawer or portable storage unit.

photo credit: lifehacker.com

4. Develop a system

Whether you have shelves filled with books and media, filing drawers stuffed with folders, or an overflowing filing cabinet, you should be able to find what you need in a matter of seconds.

Don’t waste time thumbing for files and books kept on shelves, try a numerical or alphabetical system that is clearly labeled, either with tabs or labels placed on the spines of books and binders. Good trick: organise the space as if someone else will be using it as well. It will simplify the system, and be helpful if you ever need someone else to find something.

Files in cabinets should also be clearly labeled in a manner that makes the most sense to you and your business processes. Think about how you associate the contents of various files in your mind, and label each file according to those specifications.

5. The 90-second neaten

Take one to two minutes in the beginning or end of your day to put everything back in its place. Yes, it feels a bit like clean up time in kindergarten, but doing so will prevent your streamlined workspace from morphing into a clutter-filled monster. It will also help you start each workday with a ‘clean slate’. When you’re first learning how to organise your personal workspace, consistency is key, and a minute or two per day is a lot easier to manage than spending hours at a time wading through a mess.

What’s your wackiest workspace organization technique or useful tip?

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