I’m really excited this week. On Friday, I head of to St. Charles Illinois to join a few hundred of my fellow organizing and productivity professionals for our Annual Conference and retreat.
Almost thirteen years ago, when I was ready to make a run from my Corporate America job, I was stumped on what my next move would be.
I did a lot of soul searching and informal focus groups with my friends and peers to identify my marketable talents. Almost unanimously, folks told me I was organized and good at teaching people shortcuts to make their days easier.
I started to research ways to make a living with those talents and fell in love with the organizing and productivity industry. I joined NAPO (National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals) and haven’t looked back.
Since then, NAPO has been a huge part of my growth. I’ve served on the Board of Directors, led committees to launch technology and research initiatives, collaborated with amazing professionals from Hawaii to New Jersey.
Thanks to NAPO, I met my two ride-or-die accountability partners Atheneé and Heather–in fact, Heather and I will be up to no good this weekend!
So, to honor the industry that got me off on my entrepreneurial journey, scroll on down for 19 Quick Ways to Organize Your Desk!
I’ll be back with more food for thought next week!
- Use labeled file folders in a step-file for those action files that you work on each day. Keep it on your desk or in a locked draw close by if you need to protect the data.
- Get your in-basket off your desk. If people don’t have to approach your desk to deliver mail, you will have fewer interruptions. Also, you will have less temptation to grab everything that comes your way.
- Have a set time or times each day to review your mail. Make it a habit. Allow a half-hour or more.
- Keep a Tickler File System consisting of 12 hanging folders for the months and one set of 31 file folders for the days. Place Action items in the 31-day folders. Place upcoming items in the Month you’ll have to take action. Move them accordingly as you need to.
- Don’t keep magazines. Tear out or scan the interesting articles and place them in a Read Even better, access the article online and use a web-clipper or save to an app like Evernote for reading later.
- Place the telephone behind you, so you are facing the wall when making a call. It reduces interruptions as well as keeps your desk clear.
- Remove from your desk any tape dispensers, paper clip holders, pencil caddies etc. that can be put in a desk drawer.
- Keep your desk as a work area, not a storage area. File daily. Don’t allow papers to stack up.
- Set up a key word searchable filing system that will let you file quickly and locate anything within a few seconds. Ideally this would be a document management system. At the very least, use the Tags and Category property features when saving files to make searching move faster.
- Don’t use scraps of paper. Have a Telephone Log book for making notes while on the telephone or while checking voice mail. Make sure that any follow up items or next steps get added to your task list and/or calendar.
- Try to limit yourself to one junk drawer Use the other drawers to hold specific items. Have a place for everything.
- Take a few seconds to clear off your desk when you leave for the day – with the exception of that one project you plan to work on in the morning.
- When receiving email or working with a reference, resist the urge to print a hard copy. If you need to reference the email for future follow up, convert the email to a calendar or task item so you keep the information. Don’t forget to file the email in a sub-folder or delete if you don’t need it. See item #14 for a monitor set up solution.
- Instead of working with paper files, try to avoid printing. Invest in a dual monitor set up, so that you can use one screen to look at a reference document when working—instead of printing extra copies.
- “When in doubt, throw it out.” Don’t keep anything that can be easily obtained elsewhere.
- Don’t duplicate items that are not time-sensitive; if you have to share a paper document, share one copy instead.
- Don’t keep business cards. Scan them directly into your contact management system.
- Transfer information such as meeting location and time, things to do, directions, into your calendar and scrap the paperwork.
- Purge your files on a regular basis. Use the self-destruct system. If you hate filing, use a timer and a great music playlist to keep you energized. (Headphones are handy if you work in a shared space!)
Let me know if you try any of these or if you’d like other tips on ways to get organized at work!