Is this is the year you stop working in a chaotic office environment and finally get yourself organized? If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, read on. Productivity expert Audrey Thomas, otherwise known as Organized Audrey, has a dozen suggestions. And if even that makes you feel overwhelmed, she urges you to pick one change and do it today. “Small changes made slowly and gradually will turn into new, life-changing habits,” she says. Once you’ve incorporated one of the ideas, try a second one. And so on.
1. Manage your e-mail inbox.
Devote 10 minutes each day to cleaning out your e-mail inbox. Use a timer to keep focused.
2. Take stuff home.
Collect personal items (food storage containers, shoes, personal bills or mail, library book, sweater) sitting around your office and take them home with you tonight.
3. Sort the stack.
When you get home, sort through the stack of mail on your kitchen counter and separate all of the bills that need to get paid within the next 30 days. Have a paper bag next to you and put all the catalogs and promo mailings you don’t want directly into the bag to be recycled.
4. Create e-mail folders.
If you haven’t learned how to set up folders within your e-mail management system, take the time to do it and then start filing your incoming e-mail appropriately.
5. Reduce your paper pile.
Grab three inches of papers off of your desk. Sort and purge, and then file those that need to be kept.
6. Streamline supplies.
Take a look at the office supplies sitting on your desk and in your pencil drawer. If you've got multiples, return them to the supply closet or give to a co-worker.
7. Un-post the Post-its.
Clean up the sticky notes around the perimeter of your computer screen. After a while, these just become clutter and you tune them out. If any of them represent tasks, add the task to your to-do list and pitch the sticky note.
8. Let the bulletin board breathe.
If you have a bulletin board in your office, is it covered with items you have long forgotten? Give yourself 10 minutes to sort and purge the items on it, and turn it into something that is pleasant to look at and functional. Add personal photos to make it more fun.
9. Look down.
It’s time to weed out that stuff being stored underneath your desk. Just what's in that box that's been there for three years?
10. Look ahead.
Review tomorrow's calendar appointments. Are you prepared for each meeting on your schedule? Take time now to find and set aside materials, notes, and other information you need to bring with you. Commit to being there three to four minutes early.
11. Decide now.
So much of the clutter in our world represents delayed decisions. Every single e-mail that shows up in your inbox needs a decision made about it. The same goes for each piece of paper you encounter at work and at home. Fight the urge to “put things away tomorrow.” Every time you make a decision on what to do with something, you are one step closer to being organized and having less stress.
12. Start small.
Small and steady progress equals long-term success. So start out with one area of your office versus attempting to do too much all at once. You’ll see results quickly and be able to maintain your newly sorted area more successfully.
If you’re feeling better already, you could consider booking Organized Audrey as a speaker for your meetings. Her practical presentations teach audiences how to manage their piles of files, use Microsoft Outlook way more efficiently, boost their productivity, understand office etiquette, and more. Everyone will go away with several ideas that are easy to put into practice and can have a huge impact.