Office Organisation 101: How to organise your office for maximum productivity

Unless you have the skills of Marie Kondo, chances are your office could do with a little (but probably a lot of) organising. Why spend precious time organising when you could be answering emails and finishing that presentation? Because studies have shown an organised workspace means increased productivity, has positive ramifications on personal relationships, increased wellness, and (surprise!) a higher chance of promotion.

Step 1: Divide and conquer
Many guides begin with a ‘purge and declutter’ step, but this step can be overwhelming if your workspace is a bit of a black hole. Some professional organisers recommend tackling one area at a time.

The first step on our list? Sort your paper. Yes a lot of the noise we now receive is digital, but there’s a relentless amount of paper that comes at us daily: bills, administrative letters, contracts, namecards etc. If you don’t already have a recycling folder in the office, establish one now and junk the paper you don’t need. Then sort through the remaining paper stash and either file what you need to keep or create a ‘working’ folder: documents that need signing or scanning, bills that need to be paid etc.

Step 2: Have a scratch pad
While throwing out your paper you might have come across random numbers and information scrawled on them – it’s an extraordinarily common habit to reach for the nearest item to take down information when you’re on the phone or researching something online. Consolidate your random information with the use of a scratchpad, which should be placed within arm’s reach. Don’t stash this notepad away; it’ll just wind up unused.

Step 3: Clear your desktop
Unless your table is cluttered with keepsakes, your worktop should be significantly clearer at this point. A Princeton neurologist found the more stuff you have around you, the more difficult it is to focus on the task at hand, so leave only the things you use on a daily basis on the table. Use a desktop drawer or an organising tray to keep things tidy. Paper should be filed in a two-tray system (incoming and outgoing), or put in magazine folders.

Step 4: Tackle the drawers
Not all of us have the luxury of a separate drawer unit, but these can also be acquired affordably at the nearest IKEA. Just like storage at home, the more storage you can create in the office, the better. Use one drawer for keeping personal items while keeping like items together: stationery should be in the same area; extra notepads should be kept with extra sticky notes; the company stamp can be kept with envelopes and postage stamps. A Konmari trip is to always ‘file’ things away, i.e. use boxes within the drawer to further compartmentalise items and reduce the likelihood of a junk drawer.

Step 5: Sort your digital clutter
Not all of us strive to attain inbox zero, but most of us can do with a little digital clean-up. Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t need and archive mail you probably never need again. Uninstall programmes and delete files or images you no longer use, especially duplicates or outdated documents. If you have an enormous amount of digital information on your desktop and are constantly unable to retrieve information when required, consider establishing a new organization structure or colour-coding your folders. Like your work table, your digital desktop should be clear of clutter.

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