(go to the bottom of the blog and read the ALERT before you come back up and begin)
Whether you have a home office or in a corporate setting, if you work from any sort of workspace, today is your day.
Look around the area in which you work. Is it set up in a way so that you can be as productive as possible?
Orrrrr, when you look on your desk do you see the picture of you and Sweetie at the Mebane Molasses Festival from nine years ago, or that God’s Eye yarn-and-stick craft your kid made at camp (she’s now 23), or that…whatever it is…that fell off the cabinet a few weeks ago and you put it on the desk so you wouldn’t forget where it was when you finally figure out what it is and where it goes?
And what about paper? Where’s that stack of magazines you just have to read? You know, the one with the conference program from 2009 with your picture in it. Are all those papers on your desk important? Where’s the letter you were supposed to respond to two weeks ago, and where are those meeting notes from last week?
Check your computer screen. Do you have so many icons and folders and whizbangs that the screen saver is totally obscured? Is your unread emails total over 1,000?
(I know what you’re thinking, “How’d Mike know?! Has he been in here?!)
Nope, I’m describing my office at times over the years.
Here are five keys to getting and keeping your office organized:
1. The 30-Second Secret: Don’t walk away from your desk at lunch or at the end of the day without spending 30 Seconds straightening a few things up. Take 30 Seconds at any time of day and dump/organize a few things on your computer desktop. This is the magic, nothing-beats-this key to getting and staying organized. The cumulative effect of 30 Seconds is amazing.
2. Like Piles: Put things in piles of “like” activities and work your way through each pile. The Piles are: What do you need to take Action on? What do you need to Pass On to others? What do you need to File/Store? What’s in the “Mystery” pile? What do you need to Trash?
3. Get a Timer: Use the Timer on your phone or go to WalMart and spend $8 for a baking timer. Set it to 15-minutes and organize as much as you can. When the bell goes off you get to quit.
4. 2-Day Clean Up: Pick a day and spend a couple of hours purging all the stuff you can in your office. You know those notebooks your predecessor left and said you’d need someday? Toss’em. Six months from now, pick another day and do the same thing. A few hours, twice a year, keeps you from being buried in stuff.
5. Prime Real Estate: Is the center of your desk clear? If it isn’t you’re making life more difficult for yourself. When you look at a messy desk you’re looking at a visual to-do list. At the very least, pile everything to the side (better yet, get it off your desk), so whatever you put in front of you is what you can concentrate on.
ALERT: Studies show that when executives, managers and supervisors see employees with messy desks/offices they question whether or not the employee could handle more responsibility. They question whether the employee should be promoted or deserves a raise. In a lot of ways, “messy” means less opportunity/money, not more.