Boost Productivity With An Organized Workspace

Not getting much done lately? Is your productivity slipping? You might think it’s because you’re getting older, or the stress from that strange noise in the Exchange server is catching up with you. Or, it could be your disorganized workspace. Don’t worry though. Productivity guru Gina Trapani offers some helpful tips on maximizing your workspace on the Harvard Business blog.

Clear the deck. Your elbows and your brain need room to do what they do best, so you’ve got to clear away the clutter. Those spontaneous piles of miscellaneous paperwork, the boxes of stuff tossed in the corner, the tchotchkes from last year’s convention? They’ve all got to go.

Just make sure you don’t go too far into a minimalist frenzy.  It’s a neurological fact that dull cubicles create brain death.

Keep only frequently used items within reach. Split your workspace tools and current paperwork into two categories: what should be within arm’s reach and what shouldn’t. Right now, as you sit at your desk, consider every single item that you can reach out and touch. Is there anything you use less than a few times a week? Get it out of your way. (Hint: If it’s dusty, it doesn’t need to be there.) Is there anything you use often that’s not right nearby? Relocate it to the space right in front of you. For example, if you rarely use the hole punch, store it in the office supplies drawer. If you’re always jotting things down, a fresh notepad and uncapped pen should be next to your mouse pad.

Set up a landing strip. Every day you arrive in workspace with the same items – a cell phone, briefcase and/or purse, mail, keys, change. Make a "landing strip" where you can drop your stuff when you come in and out (maybe with an extra cell phone charger and change cup). If incoming paperwork or mail makes its way to your desk or chair each day, use an inbox to "catch" it. Clear out this inbox and file, recycle, or otherwise process everything in it every day.

Store related items together. Reduce the amount of time you spend hunting for tools by grouping items by task. Keep the stamps near your envelopes, pens near notepads, fresh folders near the filing cabinet, ink near the printer, shredder near the recycling bin, and so on.

Pay attention to the way you work and adjust as needed. After your initial reorganization, keep an eye out for recurring tasks you can do more efficiently in your workspace. If you often need space to spread out paperwork, get a keyboard drawer or L-shaped desk that gives you that room.

So there you have it. Advice from the founder of LifeHacker.  Try these tips out, and let us know how it goes in the comments below.

— Chad Broadus

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