The old adage “Tidy house, tidy mind” goes double when you’re at the office. Minimizing distractions by removing useless clutter can help us work more efficiently, improve concentration and even reduce stress. But where do you start? For many of us, the prospect of having a clear out is as welcome as filling out your tax return. But you’d be surprised how simple it can be to get rid of your rubbish.
To begin, put everything in, on or under your desk into three boxes: one for the stuff you need to do your job every day, one for the things you use occasionally and one for the things you don’t need. The first box you can keep, the second you should put in a cupboard or store room away from your desk, and everything in the third should be recycled, given away or thrown in the bin.
So, now that you’ve done away with the worst of the office detritus, how can you ensure it doesn’t build up again?
- Pack up your paperwork. You may not be able to completely rid yourself completely of paperwork, but you can dramatically reduce the amount you create. Using email to share information and keeping staff handbooks and circulars on an intranet will mean fewer printouts hanging around your desk – and it will reduce your printer running costs.
- Clear away cables. Cordless phones and Wi-Fi enabled laptops not only get rid of untidy tangles of cables, they give you greater freedom to move around your office. So you can collaborate with others more easily and hotdesk if space is at a premium. Using portable devices such as laptops and tablets also enables staff to keep (and access via the web) much more information when working out of the office. For the cords you can’t get rid of, using zip ties can help keep them neat and tidy.
- Virtualise your presentations. If your business involves regular presentations, replace printouts and presentation boards and invest in a widescreen monitor or projector from office stores like Staples. It may seem like an expensive alternative initially but it will soon pay for itself, as well as reducing the amount of waste you produce. Similarly, rather than give handouts at the end of your presentation, simply store the Powerpoint document or PDFs on your intranet for people to refer to if needed.
- Digitize your archives. Keeping your records digitally makes it quicker and easier to retrieve documents and takes up a fraction of the space required by filing cabinets and cupboards. Computer servers and external hard drives can also be backed up online via Cloud storage for fast, efficient disaster recovery in the event of theft or damage.
- Take control of your Inbox. Clutter can also take hold on your computer. Emails can clog up your inbox, using up storage space and making it difficult to keep on top of tasks. Rather than using your inbox as a to-do list, use the ‘Tasks’ option to record jobs and set reminders. File read or replied emails in folders relating to the task or client to make finding new or important messages easier. And use Cloud services like Evernote to keep notes where you can access them when you’re away from your computer.
Office technology can make it easy to get organized and take control of your workload: you just need to seize the opportunity. Once you get into the habit of using these solutions, you’ll be more efficient, flexible and responsive and you’ll be able to take your business to the next level.