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like sports, people, places and events plus a dose of national and local headlines and is also an article contributor for the Feast Binan Weekly Bulletin

Friday, February 4, 2011

Office Tips: De-clutter your workspace

“If you have a cluttered office, you risk being seen as inefficient or not on top of your work, [Disorganization] suggests a degree of incompetence that clouds your abilities. You run the risk of jeopardizing your chance of a promotion.”- Peter Walsh, host of Enough Already! on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

I find it very intriguing because I can somehow relate to what is being said. I work on a tiny cubicle with stacked with 2 computers, 2 monitors, 2 phones and a lot of unnecessary materials littering around. Work manuals, memos, folders and tons of unfiled papers. I came across this article about tips on how to declutter your office workspace. According to the article, clutters can affect your productivity and might even be a cause of one not being promoted.

So I thought of sharing this information to all those working as a corporate slave. :)

Give Everything a Place - Desktops and floors are not for storage. Flat surfaces should be clear and every item needs a designated place.

Walsh, likens your office chair to a driver’s seat. In a car, the only tools in front of you are the steering wheel, the gear shift and ignition. At your desk, “the only stuff in the radius of your arms should be the stuff you need immediately.” 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, a telephone, two pens, one notebook, a lamp and one family photograph. Use drawer dividers to segment frequently used supplies like paperclips and tape, and keep other items in the zones you’ve established.

At the same time, day-to-day personal items like clothing will quickly overwhelm an office if they don’t have an assigned space off the floor or desktop, says Jane Brown, founder of organization and design firm Jane Brown Interiors. She suggests hanging hooks for jackets, bags, umbrellas and accessories, so colleagues won’t have to step over your purse or sit on your coat. Plus, know your own habits. You may need to clear a basket or drawer for a gym bag or change of shoes, based on your needs.

Simplify Paperwork - “Most people spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day looking for things,” says Laura Stack, president of time-management consulting firm The Productivity Pro. Many of her clients say they are suffocating under emails and towers of paperwork; feeling stressed and out of control. “Physically, it’s in the way. Psychologically, it’s a barrier. You can’t focus because your files start to talk to you, and you have a nagging sense that you’re missing something.”

Stack once worked with an engineer whose office was filled nearly wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with mountains of boxes, files and rolled up maps and plans. There was a narrow path leading from the door to his chair. The engineer felt like he might lose his mind, she says, and his career had stalled. He no longer received important assignments because his managers assumed he couldn’t handle them, putting his career at risk.

Every professional needs an easy paper system, says Stack. Streamline the process with just three hanging files or baskets labeled To Read, To Do, To File. Set days of the week to go through each so that you don’t get behind or feel overwhelmed by the need to do everything at once. Keep files for ongoing projects color-coded and set them apart from your archives. Then, you’ll know exactly where everything is what needs your attention first.

Meanwhile, digital clutter should also be kept to a minimum. Stack says the worst inbox she’s seen had 25,000 emails, with thousands left unread. Organize your digital wasteland using folders consistent with your paper system and with the task functions and reminders built into your email software. Also minimize desktop icons—a loaded screen will instantly trigger a stress response and make it difficult to find anything.

Establish and Maintain Limits - In the OfficeMax survey, 26% of respondents said they were disorganized because they didn’t have enough space for their stuff. “The issue isn’t space; it’s too much stuff,” counters Walsh. He puts clutter into two categories: memory clutter, which reminds you of an important person or achievement, and I-might-need-it-one-day clutter. Ironically, the more you heap around you in order to feel prepared, the more out of control you’ll appear to coworkers.

Set limits on the amount of stuff you’ll tolerate from the beginning, and challenge yourself to stick to them. Allow yourself one bookshelf. When it’s full, give away one book for every new one that you add. 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. Walsh says that “80% of what goes into a filing cabinet never sees the light of day.” One pack rat he recently worked with had file boxes of receipts going back to 1989, including receipts for hamburgers that he’d paid for in cash.

Long-term maintenance is as crucial as the original organization plan. Make an appointment twice a year to go through old files, every six weeks to clear out your desk drawers and at the end of every day to put things away.

“The most important 10 minutes of each day are the 10 minutes before you go home at night,” says Walsh. He advises using the end of the day to put things back in their places, toss garbage, clean cups and write out a to-do list. Then, your office will welcome you each morning into an inviting and productive space.

I might as well heed the advise and follow the tips mentioned above, and boy I definitely have a looong way to go.


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