Cleaning Out
1/11/2019 4:48:08 PM

Cleaning and de-cluttering the home has been popular on social media this week. There are books, shows on Netflix, and plenty of blog posts about how to clean and organize a home. These tips can also be applied to the office. So, start the year by getting organized and clearing your work space. has these tips for cleaning up your office:

Divide Your Workspace Into Zones

Organization expert Peter Walsh suggests that every professional first ask themselves,What do I want from my office space, and is it meeting my needs?After establishing how you want and need to use the space, set up zones for your daily functions. You may require a workspace for your computer, a library area for your research, a storage area for supplies and a filing area for your archives. This will provide a foundation for a more efficient use of space.

Keep Only What You Need At Arm's Length

"The only stuff in the radius of your arms should be the stuff you need immediately," says Walsh. Boxes of pens, stacks of papers and old coffee cups need to go. Instead, rid your desk of visual clutter by paring down the items on top to the essentials only. For most, that means a monitor and keyboard, telephone, two pens, one notebook, a lamp and one family photograph in your most-used workspace. Supplies, paperwork and personal items should be kept in the zones you've established for them.

Create A Daily Paper System

"The paperless office is a farce," says Laura Stack, president of time-management consulting firm The Productivity Pro. "Most professionals today are buried under paperwork." Streamline the process with hanging files or baskets labeled To Read, To Do, To File. Establish set days for each, so that you don't get behind or feel the overwhelming need to do everything at once. For ongoing projects, keep these files color-coded and set them apart from your archives. This way you'll know where everything is and what requires your attention first.

Establish Limits

"The issue isn't space; it's too much stuff," Walsh says. Set limits on the amount of stuff you'll tolerate from the beginning. Allow yourself one bookshelf. When it's full, give away one book for every new one that you add to maintain that limit. The same goes for filing. When the cabinet becomes loaded, it's time to de-file, tossing some of the paperwork you no longer need. The long-term upkeep will be just as important as your original organization plan.

Sort Your Catch-All Drawer

"Most people throw things into a desk drawer to get them out of sight," says Jane Brown, founder of organization and design firm Jane Brown Interiors. After time, however, they have no idea what’s in that drawer and become anxious even opening it. Brown suggests using drawer dividers to give everything a place, like compartments for paperclips and rubber bands. Then go through the drawer every six weeks and clear out anything that is out of place or isn't being used. And put this task on your calendar, Brown warns, so you that you keep the appointment.

Don't Use E-Mail As A To-Do List

Stack says most of us are drowning in e-mails and too often use our inboxes like to-do lists. Digital clutter can be just as stressful and energy-sapping as physical clutter, she says. Stack suggests organizing your inbox similar to your paper files, either with folders or with task functions built into the software. For example, rather than flagging an email unsystematically, use Outlook or Entourage commands to set a reminder to follow up.

Streamline Your Desktop Icons

"Every morning your office should welcome you and motivate you to do your best work," says Walsh. That includes your computer, which is the modern worker's essential tool. A screen cluttered with icons will trigger your stress hormone and make it impossible to find anything. Instead, create a logical digital filing system and reduce your desktop icons to a select few. By the same token, clear off any sticky notes or reminders from your monitor, as they will only distract you from your work.

Hang Hooks For Outwear

Personal items will quickly overwhelm a space if they don't have a specified place off the floor or desk top, says Brown. She suggests hanging hooks in your office or from your cubicle walls to organize your outerwear. Provide a separate hook for your purse, jacket, accessories and umbrella for visual appeal, and get in the habit of hanging each everyday. This way your colleagues and guests won't need to step over your bag or sit on your coat.

Keep A Basket Or Drawer For Short-Term Storage

Even with the best-laid organization plans, there may still be some overflow. Know yourself and your habits. You may need an area for short-term storage. Perhaps you receive a daily newspaper or a few magazine subscriptions. Keep a basket devoted to these items, and clear them out on a rolling basis. Similarly, if you frequently carry a gym bag or change of shoes with you, designate a drawer or cupboard shelf for these things to get them out of the way.

Disinfect Regularly

Even if you're neat, you still need to prevent the build-up of dust, dirt, food stains or fingerprints. Adecco's Jennie Dede suggests regularly requesting or expensing disinfecting wipes and giving your desk, phone, keyboard and monitor a wipe down once a week. The habit will also force you to tidy up loose papers and lingering trash. According to the survey, three quarters of workers say a clean office makes them more productive.

Clear out and get ready for a great 2019! Whether you are cleaning out your home or your office, it is a great way to tackle the new year. It is worth taking some time at the beginning to create a more productive work environment.

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