Guest Post by Caitlin Reed
Desk stress plagues all varieties of workers. Office workers, administrators, the self-employed, and anyone with a work space all find themselves, on average, more stressed about work when their desk or other work area is a mess. Good organization leads to higher productivity and less work stress.
What can you do?
The best way to avoid this major distraction in your work life is to organize your work area. You must first determine why you accumulate so much clutter in your work space.
Evaluate, and ask yourself:
- Why is this item here?
- How did this item get here?
- Is there another place for this item besides my office?
- Is this item necessary for my work?
If you work from home, especially with children, you may find that household items find their way to your office and desk area. Toys, personal care items, dishes, and more can get comfortable in unintended homes in the corners of your desk and office area, simply because you work where you live and there is overlap between work life and home life. Once you determine why and how an item arrived in your home office, evaluate where it belongs. Obviously, dishes, children’s items, and other items that belong to the home have another place to be put away. For the items that belong to your office, evaluate if they are really necessary for your space. Especially if you have a small home office, you may benefit immensely from reducing the amount of items you have in the first place, which will make ongoing cleanup and organization easier.
For instance, if you have a printer, a scanner, and a fax machine, consider how much less clutter you would have in your office if you purchased an all-in-one machine that prints, scans, copies, and sends faxes. Instantly, your office would be more streamlined and visually appealing, and you would have that much less stress from having an over cluttered workspace. It’s possible that you have accumulated multiple items, like tape dispensers, staplers, notepads, writing utensils, scissors, and more. Inventory your office accessories and determine whether or not you could get rid of the excess to further reduce the amount of clutter you have to work with as you organize your space.
I consolidated and got rid of my excess clutter, now what?
Once you have reduced to the minimum you need or want in your office, get to organizing. Group like items together, such as pens, pencils, highlighters, and other writing utensils, so that you always know where to reach when you need something to write. Consider purchasing bins or baskets in colors that coordinate with your decor so your organization system fits in with a color scheme that appeals to you. When everything looks nice and visually pleasing, you will enjoy work that much more. With regard to papers and documents, consider scanning and keeping electronic files to reduce clutter. If you need to keep the hard copies, get a file box in a coordinating color to match the rest of your organization and decor, or consider a file cabinet in a neutral color. A desk with built-in file slots and cabinets can also create a very visually appealing and organized space, but may be cost prohibitive. Do the best you can with the resources you have to outfit and organize your home office.
Spend time deciding what deserves space on your desk. If you can mount your telephone on the wall to save space, do it. Or use your cell phone for work purposes and eliminate the landline altogether if your occupation will allow it. The more items taking up space on your desk, the higher the chance of more clutter and the stress that follows. Keep your desk as clear as possible throughout the day, and clean it off at the end of the day so you begin tomorrow with a fresh slate.
Keeping it organized
It’s relatively easy to go through everything and organize, in the beginning. The challenge occurs when you are tasked to keep your space organized, functional, and visually appealing. Remember, a nice-looking and well-organized space means less work stress and better productivity, so it is very important to not let things slide back to the cluttered mess that started it all!
Set guidelines for your space, such as making sure everything is in its proper place at the end of every day – put the pens in the drawer, the business cards in the Rolodex, and the files in the file drawer. If your children or pets leave toys in your office, keep a basket for those items that need to be relocated and take it out of your office for the kids to put away. Be sure to take your dishes back to the kitchen after each meal – better yet, eat your meals away from your desk to take a much needed and deserved mid-day break from work.
As you continue working in your office, take note of the challenges to keeping your space organized. Revamp your efforts for keeping a clean, uncluttered work area with respect to these challenges. If you tend to leave all of your paperwork out until the end of the day and then get overwhelmed, do your best to file paperwork as it comes in. If you make several notes that litter your desk, consider a bulletin board or dry-erase board to keep all of your notes in one place. With small accommodations, you can keep your work space clutter-free and visually appealing, keeping productivity high and work-related stress low.
About the Author: Caitlin Reed is a freelance writer and blogger based in northeast Ohio. Among other things, she is passionate about organization and productivity. Caitlin is the primary content contributor for home office furniture retailer Home Office Direct. Feel free to reach her via twitter: @bornagainmin
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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