How Neat Is Your Desk? 5 Strategies To Help You Get Organized
Our desks are the mission control of our workdays, and, if you’re anything like me, when my desk is orderly, I feel a bit more grounded than on the days when it looks like a two year old climbed up and gleefully played fifty-two-pick-up on top of it with a stack of files.
If one of your New Year’s goals is to organize your workspace, it’s not too soon to dive in. Here are five tips to help get you started:
- Sort. To start, move files, books, binders, and paper piles into zones based on importance and where things happen in your office/ work area. Your central workspace/ desk is where you want the items you reach for most frequently. Your reference area, with various guides and books, can be a bit farther away from your workspace; and your storage zones can be wherever you have access to cupboards, drawers or a closet.
- Purge. Once you have all of your office clutter separated into “Desk”, “Reference” and “Storage” zones, it’s easier to see what can be thrown out. I hope you fully embrace the complete-and-utter satisfaction of tossing, recycling, or shredding the no-longer-important documents, trade publications, and miscellaneous papers. There’s nothing like getting rid of excess stuff! If you find you have an overabundance of tchotchkes and mementos in your office/ work area – merely taking up space rather than adding to it in any way – consider packing them away or getting rid of some of those as well.
- Archive. For files, magazines and catalogs earmarked for Storage, archive them in labeled boxes and move them out of your immediate workspace – to a closet or storage cupboard if possible.
- Create Action Folders. For the Desk zone, consider revisiting your filing system to see if it can use some shoring up. Adding the following Action folders to keep at your fingertips can help:
- A “Now”/ “Hot” folder – For projects needing immediate attention
- A “To Be Discussed” folder – For documents/ notes needed for upcoming meetings
- An “Awaiting Response” folder – For keeping track of initiatives on hold for final decisions
- A “To Be Filed” folder – For documents that need to be put in their proper file – helping to keep paper piles at bay. Pick a day, and make a resolution to file on a weekly basis
- A “Working” folder – For projects in progress
- Straighten Up. Before heading home for the evening, try making it a point to clear your desk. I find that coming in to a neat desk in the morning helps get my day off to a better start.
When your desk/ workspace is under control, you can more clearly see the proverbial forest for the trees – highlighting the most important To-Do’s to tackle first. A neat desk also signals to your boss, clients, and fellow co-workers, that you’re conscientious about organization and efficiency – which, for many, only adds to the impression that you’re doing a great job.
Find out more about Caroline Dowd-Higgins at