Clear It Off, Clean It Up and Get Organized
Some of us have discovered that being organized is the best way to stay productive and be responsive to the demands of the day. Others, however, find organization so difficult that they feel as if they’re just meant to be unorganized. The truth is that none of us are meant to be unorganized!
Organization is more important in your life than you may imagine. By staying organized, you will never leave your boss waiting because you couldn’t locate an important document or miss an important deadline. Your stress levels will go down because you know where to find the things you need to complete important tasks. You will show up for time on meetings and if you are late, it won’t be because you can’t find the calendar invite. Being organized will improve your productivity and the productivity of your team and that will give your team a much better chance of success.
We are a species that functions better when we have structure in our lives. According to Wallace Stegner, author and Nobel Prize winner, “Chaos is the law of nature. Organization is the dream of man.” Without structure, we would live in utter chaos.
If you are one of the chronically disorganized, you may already recognize that you need more order in your life. Even some of the best Project Managers can become overwhelmed when it comes to personal organization. All is not lost, though, if you have trouble organizing things, it might be just a matter of not knowing where to start.
The worst part about organizing your life is that it seems like it can take so much time. That’s one reason why so many people refuse to find an organization strategy. They feel like it will take too much time out of their day. This article will help you get started and keep you going in the right direction so you will have a place for everything and everything is in its place.
Start on Your Desk
- Wipe down the entire surface of your desk and inside each drawer. Use sanitary wipes or a cleaner that kills germs. If you eat at your desk, make sure you clean the cracks and crevices. You should also sanitize the surface of your keyboard and mouse, with the computer shut down, of course.
- Sort through the items you removed from your desk and drawers. Group items together such as office supplies, filing materials, items to be filed, reference materials, and desk accessories.
- Get rid of paperwork you no longer need. Do you have unnecessary duplicates of reports or files? Recycle them. Are there items you still need? Keep those items and set them aside until later. Are you keeping reference material that you can easily find on the internet? Recycle those, too.
- Make a plan for where to put things back. You’ll want items you use frequently to remain within reach, so those items will take precedence on your desk.
- Create an area where you can keep current papers handy. Paper trays are often used. Vertical files are another option if you have quite a bit of paperwork.
- Establish a tickler file for various activities you perform regularly – To Read, To File, To Pay, To Do, and others. I also have a hanging folder titled “Action” for current projects and items I need to keep an eye on. But I check it every day.
- Put items back into place after you’ve gone through them and purged what isn’t needed. Only the items you need at your desk should be put back. The rest should be filed or stored.
Remember that your goal is to have a clean and organized desk. This doesn’t mean it has to be totally cleared off, but you do want to have space so you can function.
If you’ve noticed something that will help you become more organized, don’t be afraid to ask your boss to pay for it. In the long run, your increased productivity will more than pay for the item.
After you have your desk organized, do what you can to keep it clean. Decide what you’re going to do with each item as it’s placed on your desk. Use the tickler file if you have paper, or write important dates on your calendar instead of setting things aside to deal with later.
Maintaining Your Organized Space
It can be so easy to keep your desk clear once you’ve learned how to organize your workspace and put things back in their home when you’re done with them. Take the last five minutes of your day to straighten your desk and it will hopefully stay that way from here on out.
The old saying goes “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Decide where each item goes and then leave it there unless you’re actively using it. If you’re in the middle of a big project and it’s taking up much needed space, don’t be afraid to remove an item and then put it right back when you’re finished with the project.
Organize Your Life A Little Each Day
If you feel of despair at the other messes in your office and in your home, it’s time to put your new-found organization skills to work there. The secret is to avoid trying to do it all at once and take it one day, one hour, and one task at a time. With this strategy in place, you will save time, feel better, and improve the quality of your relationships.
- Tackle clutter one hour at a time. With your first priority identified, get three big boxes and set your alarm for one hour. Label the boxes, “Put Away”, “Give Away”, and “Throw Away”.Start with the biggest mess and for one hour, sort into the boxes. When your alarm goes off:
- Put the stuff in the “Throw Away” box in a garbage bag and put next to the trash.
- Put the stuff in the “Give Away” box in a garbage bag and put in the car to take to a charity.
- Put the stuff in the “Put Away” box where they belong.
Every day, spend one hour and work your plan until every mess is gone.
- Everything in Its Place. Whether you are organizing your workspace or your living area, everything needs to have a place where it “lives.” For instance, scissors need to live in a specific box or drawer, as do other small things. If something doesn’t have a specific home, it will wander, get lost and generally add to the clutter that pervades your area.Take some time to really consider your options when it comes to making sure that everything has a place on a permanent basis. Then, make sure everything is in its place.
- Tidy a Little Bit Every Day. Now that the big messes are gone, don’t let them come back! By spending just ten or twenty minutes a day organizing your space, you’ll keep the clutter under control and keep your life in order.
- Go back through your plan and clean one area each day. This can be a deep cleaning or just a superficial cleaning but at least you’ll feel productive. Once this becomes a habit, you’ll finish your cleaning faster and have more free time everyday.
- Throw It Away. When you fill up those “Throw Away” boxes, make sure you throw away stuff in them. Keep that box handy and everyday do a quick purge. Get rid of things that pile up on your desk or kitchen counters. This will get you more space and give you a better idea of what is going on in general.
- Daily mail and papers are the biggest clutter culprits. Be sure to throw away the junk right away and file away any important papers. The longer these things stay in a pile, the more likely they will get lost or forgotten.
- Set Routines and Learn to Delegate Chores. Keeping your home organized and running smoothly can be difficult, especially if you have a family.
- Delegate chores to your spouse or children that are age appropriate. Dividing the work among many family members teaches everyone how to work together as a team.
- Establish set routines so certain tasks are completed everyday. Assign large chores, like laundry, to a specific day of the week. This way, you know exactly what chore has to be accomplished and who is responsible for getting it done.
No one expects you to go from clutter-bug to super-organized overnight. But by simply implementing a few of these tips into your life, you will re-discover what it’s like to be prepared and organized both in the workplace and at home.
Stay Organized and You’ll Enjoy it While you Get More Done
The importance of organization cannot be underestimated because it carries over into other aspects of your life. Without it, it’s hard to see clearly what’s going on around you. When everything is in its place, you can see what has to be done and you can put your focus on what’s most important, first. You can also feel better about yourself and your environment. Plus, you’ll be able to find more time to do things you actually enjoy.