The Essential Office

The average office worker spends 2000 hours per year at her desk. This space can either be a stressful, headache-inducing mess or a pleasant, easy-to-maintain oasis. Use these tips to create a blissfully organized office.

  • Manage papers daily. Keep papers under control by dealing with paperwork on a regular basis. Whether first thing in the morning, at the end of the day, or somewhere in between, set aside 30 minutes each day so you don’t end up with overwhelming piles. For every piece of paper that you encounter, make an immediate decision to either toss it, file it, or act on it.
  • Toss a lot. Eighty percent of what we file is never looked at again. Keep only the papers you truly need.
  • File regularly. Make time each day to file your “keepers.” Although not your favorite task, filing as you go will probably take only a few minutes and will make your office life much less stressful and more productive.
  • Create action files. If you can’t act on smaller tasks right away, keep them in a “quick-task to-do” file, and work on them regularly so they don’t pile up. For larger, long-term projects, put each into a separate file folder. Chunk each project into bite-size pieces. Draft a timeline with deadlines, and attach it to the inside front cover of the file.
  • Keep key things close. Gather items that you use most frequently, and store them within easy reach of your usual seated position. Items that you use less frequently can be placed outside this area, but should still be easily accessible. For things you rarely use, consider getting rid of them, storing them outside your office, or stashing them farther away from your desk, saving your “prime real estate” for the most-used supplies.
  • Corral periodicals. Magazine files will neatly hold newsletters or trade periodicals, making for easy reference and reduced desk clutter.
  • Use binders. These 3-ring helpers are perfect for filing things you reference frequently because they’re easy to locate and page through, they hold a large volume of papers, and they are easy to maintain.
  • Label it. Use a dark marker or label maker to label all file folders and binders. This makes the process of “putting away” and retrieval so much easier.
  • Tidy up. At the end of every day, clear your desktop, review tomorrow’s schedule, and update your to-do list. Tomorrow is sure to be a success!

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