By Dr Eugene Brink
Whether you are an office practitioner working from home or the office right now, in order to be efficient your surroundings need to be organised.
But oftentimes we are too busy or not knowledgeable enough to effectively reconfigure our workspace. And yet, it is vital that you set your workspace to rights. “You may think that you don’t have time for office organisation, but if you really knew how much time that disorganisation cost you, you’d reconsider,” says Royale Scuderi, a creative strategist and consultant. “A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time. Organising your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time.”
But how do you do it and where do you start?
- The great purge
Scuderi recommends that you start by decluttering, emptying and simply shedding everything you don’t need or want. “Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc. Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.”
- Keep it together
Laura Leist, president of the New Jersey-based National Association of Professional Organisers, says people often buy more folders, containers, and staplers before taking stock of what they already have. She recommends grouping all similar items together and assessing what role they fulfil before going shopping. Name your physical and digital files so that they are easily retrievable.
“Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does,” says Scuderi. “Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc. Use drawer organisers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.” Moreover, get an easy-to-use marker and label shelves, bins, baskets and drawers. “Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.”
- Plants and gadgets
Ron Radu, cofounder of Léon & George, said plants can create an environment conducive to increased productivity.
“Having lots of plants around the workspace helps produce cleaner air, and it motivates employees to be more energetic and creative. Scientific studies have proven the positives of more greenery for offices. From reducing stress to increasing productivity and creativity, plants have oodles of pros.”
And for all their benefits, tech devices should not provide new clutter. “These days, we all have so many screens competing for our attention, so create a ‘home’ for your smartphone, smartwatch and other potentially distracting gadgets,” said Jamie Fertsch, director and cofounder of Xdesk, a US-based company that creates customised desks. “Keep them in a dedicated place while you do your work so you won’t be sidelined by a constant stream of notifications.”
- A common mistake
Josh Spiro writes at Inc.com that a common blunder is storing things where there is room for them and not where they get used. “If your filing cabinet is stuffed into the hall closet rather than sitting next to your desk, the documents inside it are likely to get overlooked or misplaced when they are needed most.”
Josh Spiro, 2010, “How to organise your workspace”, https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/06/organize-your-workspace.html.
Jennifer Post, 10 January 2020, “How to create a workspace that improves productivity”, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7456-workspace-design-productivity.html.
Royale Scuderi, 2021, “15 best organising tips for office organisation and getting more done”, https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/21-tips-to-organize-your-office-and-get-more-done.html.