One of the side effects of having so much stuff to help us get work done is dealing with the clutter it creates in our workspace. But just like you can defragment a hard drive—organize the bits and bytes so that related ones are closest to one another for faster access—you can also defrag your office to make it more efficient. Put your stuff out of the way but within reach, and make it easy to find and put back with a few workspace organisation techniques. Photo by lenski.
Defrag Your Gadgets, Appliances, and Supplies
The key to a good office defrag is grouping related items together. Put paper and ink refills near your printer, the recycling bin near your shredder, the camera USB cable and extra memory card in the camera bag, stamps near envelopes, the box of refill folders near the filing cabinet—you get the idea. Fact is that it's a lot easier to print a document or send a letter when all your supplies are in one place.
Make that one place easy to use, too. If you have to reach up to the back of the top shelf just to get new hanging folders, you're probably not going to add folders to your filing cabinet very often. One time, in a fit of decluttering my office, I stowed my printer on a short table under my desk just to get it out of the way because it looked better. To fit it under there I had to remove the back tray and folded up the front tray. After that I barely ever printed anything when I needed to, because it was a big hassle to move the printer out, assemble it, and load paper. Now I keep it out, assembled, and loaded with paper so I can just hit that Print button without a second thought. The point is to make things easy to get to and use, because that's why you own them at all.
I picked up a small plastic drawer set to hold all my small \office supplies\—scissors, paper clips, markers, stapler, label maker, etc. When I got sick of going through all the drawers just to locate a Sharpie (and answering the question, "Where's the Scotch tape?"), I put my label maker to work and "indexed" the drawers, as shown above.
Clear a Landing Strip, Set Up a Charging Station
Home organization blog Unclutterer suggest keeping a "landing strip" near the entrance of your home to drop keys, mail, and pocket change when you enter. The same concept works in an office as well: set up an inbox to catch incoming paper and mail, a charging station to drop off gadgets when they're not in use, and just a clear place to set your bag or any stuff you walk into the office with.
Speaking of charging stations, there are quite a few spendy options out there, but you can also mod an existing space or piece of furniture to get the job done. Here's my Ikea night stand station:
Clean Out and Reorganize Your Filing Cabinet
No matter how much business you conduct digitally, fact is, in the year 2008, we still have to deal with actual pieces of paper. Luckily, the right size filing cabinet, a label-maker and some folders can make it almost fun to organize and track your documents. Here's how to give your filing cabinet an extreme makeover.
Hide Your Cords
A good way to keep your workspace looking dusty and messy is with a pile of spaghetti cords under and around it. With a simple tray and a long power strip you can get cords off the floor and under control. There are dozens of neat cord management tricks out there; see our top 10 ways to keep cables under control.
How do you keep your workspace clean, mean, and efficient? Share your tricks in the comments.