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Melissa Schmalenberger, areavoices.com blogger, Published January 29 2011

Workspace clutter: Tips to reclaim your desk and work area

I recently gave a talk to a lovely group of people about organizing one’s office. The presentation included a PowerPoint slideshow full of information as well as two pages of handouts, some products to show them how to make their offices more productive as well as some before-and-after pictures.

It seemed like information overload, and I began thinking, “If I could boil it down to 10 great tips, what would they be?” The result was this list of tips to make the workspace better organized and more efficient.

Timer – Set a timer for focusing on those hard-to-do tasks. Do not do anything but the task at hand: no phone calls, no e-mails; no interruptions.

Don’t multitask – Multitasking drops your IQ by 10 points. Smoking a marijuana joint drops it by four points, according to a report in YogaJournal.

Go vertical – Store all paper vertically in a file because once paper goes horizontal, you will never find it.

Peak work time – Find out the time when you work the best and get your most difficult tasks done during that time.

Schedule heads-down time – Close the door to your office or, if you work in a cubicle, have a system put in place that indicates you are not to be disturbed. Make sure everyone respects this so that you can get work done without being disturbed.

At your fingertips – Make sure that the things that you use on a daily basis are at your fingertips. If you rarely use something, it should not be taking up space on your desk.

Use wall space – Have you thought about going vertical on a wall for files or photos that clutter your desk?

Clean desk – Put everything in its place every day as you leave your office. Coming into a clean and organized office will help start your day off on the right foot.

To do – Create a to-do list daily. By putting it on a piece of paper, you are removing it from your brain to try to remember. It is a great feeling to then cross off those tasks as you complete them.

Purge files – Take the time to purge files because you don’t use 80 percent of what is filed. Do this at least twice each year, and schedule a time to do this on your calendar now.


Melissa Schmalenberger is a professional organizer. She blogs at mssimplicity.areavoices.com.