How to Get Organised & Reduce Your Clutter

how to get organised and reduce your clutter

Date: On Demand (access any time)
Investment: $285 per person
(Discounts for multiple participants)

INCLUDES: One-on-One Telephone Coaching

Whether people like to admit it or not, the state of a desk and work area is a reflection of the state of the person’s mind and control. That statement might seem controversial (especially with the people who have messy desks), but generally that statement holds true. Is it possible to have a totally disorganised work area and be totally in control of your time and priorities? It’s possible, but unlikely.

Imagine stepping into the cockpit of a jumbo jet or peeking into an operating theatre of a hospital only to find ‘stuff’ everywhere. Your immediate impression of the cockpit or the operating theatre is one of chaos! Would you fly with on that airline, or have a medical procedure in hospital?

Even though your work may not be as important as that of a surgeon or airline pilot, your work area is where you get things done. And a messy desk is a sign of personal disorganisation. Without having a system or process, having a disorganised work area keeps you (and your colleagues) from being able to find your critical files and other documents easily. In turn, by wasting minutes multiple times over during the day looking the things, you’re wasting time that could be spent working on other important matters.

So, what does your desk look like right now? Are there papers and folders all over it? Maybe there is stationary scattered throughout various drawers. What file is where? Do you have a system to deal with all your documentation? Do you have things you never use, or perhaps don’t need sitting on your desk in front of you? When was the last time you used any of this stuff anyway?

Now pretend you are a potential client or team member who comes to visit you while you are away from your desk. What impression would they form of you based on the state of your workspace? Is it a good impression?

In this session, we are going to cover the following six helpful ideas to help you get organised and in control of your area at work:

  • Understand the reason why getting organised is important
  • Have a place for everything (and keep everything where it should be)
  • Apply triage to your desk in work area
  • Purge regularly. If you haven’t used it (or intend to use it) – get rid of it
  • Work on only one project or file at once
  • Do a quick tidy up every Friday afternoon

Ideas to Get Organised and Reduce Clutter

1.  Understand the reason why getting organised is important

Even if you’re not a neat freak (and most people are not), staying organised is something that will enable you to not only feel good about yourself and leave a good impression with others, but it will also mean that you won’t lose important files or information. That’s because everything will be in the right place.

A clean desk communicates that you are an organised. Just like your home gives people an idea of who you are, your desk and work area does too. Another great benefit of having an organised desk and work area is that it puts you in the right frame of mind when you come in to work in the morning. A messy work area can easily distract you and will prevent you from getting to work right away.

2. Have a place for everything (and keep everything where it should be)

Most of the advice your mum gave you was probably right! Especially the advice about having a place for everything and keeping everything in its place.

Divide your desk into zones and designate material for each zone. For example, you may want to keep all the pens in a pen stand, office supplies in the top drawer, extra printer paper on the shelf and all the files alphabetically in the filing cabinet.

You may also want to designate one drawer for documentation that comes in and one for files completed that needs to be filed away. Now rearrange all the material in your desk, so that everything is where it should be. If you decide to take action and get your work area organised, it may also be helpful for you to label each drawer, shelf space and container so that you know exactly where things need to go (and where they are put back afterwards).

3. Apply ‘triage’ to your desk and work area

If you’ve ever watched any hospital or medical show on television, you would have heard the term triage used. Triage is a method of classifying the urgency of which a patient is attended to by medical staff. A patient on death’s door would be classified as “A”. On the other hand, a patient with a sprained ankle would  be classified a “C”.

Modify the rules of triage to help you deal with your office clutter. This means you need to instantly make decisions about which of the following categories all information on and in and around your desk fits into:

  1. “A”. Information and documentation that you need to use all day.
  2. “B”. Information and documentation that you use throughout the day
  3. “C”. Anything which is low priority, does not need to be looked at |immediately or has been dealt with already.

4. Purge regularly. If you haven’t used it (or intend to use it) – get rid of it

Have you ever watched one of those television shows when a journalist goes into the house of a hoarder? It’s quite easy to get physically sick looking at such a mess. While there are very few desks and work areas that would look as bad as the hoarder’s house, this clutter is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

The best thing you can do to clutter is to throw it away. If you have not used something, or do not intend to use something, get rid of it immediately. This includes extra office supplies, articles you wanted to read someday and even things like giveaways, knickknacks and a whole array of what can only be described as ‘stuff’ that have a habit of making their homes in your desk drawers.

If you’re really worried about throwing something away that could be valuable will need it again, place all of the ‘stuff’ into a big cardboard box. Then take the box and put it somewhere into storage for a couple of months. If there has been no need to go to the box and find that item again, you can safely assume that after a few months there won’t be a need for you to use it again.

5. Work on only one project or file at once

Have you ever tried to finish two or three things at the same time? Research has showed that the idea of multi-tasking actually results in a DECREASE and not an increase in productivity.

Don’t get caught up in the anxiety of trying to deal with too many projects or files at the same time. At the start of every day place all of your files that you intend to work on in your “B” zone. Then, take the first file that you intend to use and put it in front of you in your “A” zone.

Begin work on that one project or file and give it your full attention for as long as you need to. After you have finished your work on that file (which may or may not mean it is finalised), put it away at the bottom of the “B” pile before you pick up another project or file. If your work tends to be more electronic and paper-based, remember that you can even apply the same system to files and documents on your computer.

6. Do a quick tidy up every Friday afternoon

There is something wonderful about leaving work on a Friday afternoon knowing that your desk is organised and ready for the following week. So, at the end of your day on Friday, spend around 15 minutes tidying up your desk, work area and files.

Recycle any unwanted material, return things to where they belong and make sure that your desk is spic and span (perhaps with some cleaner or polish) and ready for you to come in and work on Monday.

This is also a good time to do any paper or electronic filing, and send out what needs to be posted or forwarded to another department.