organizing your workspace

By Rieva Lesonsky

Want to feel like you’re getting a fresh start for 2018? If your office, desk or other workspace is cluttered and confusing, it’s hard to perform at your peak. Before the New Year, follow these steps to get your workspace ultra-organized.

  1. Grab some empty boxes. You’ll need one for things you’re keeping, one for things you’re discarding and a third for items you’re donating or giving away.
  2. Remove everything from the top of your desk and sort it into one of the three boxes.
  3. Once you know what you’re keeping, decide if it really needs to stay on top of your desk or not. Try to keep your desk space for items you use every day.
  4. Empty your desk drawers and sort the contents into one of the three boxes. Throw out anything that you never use or that isn’t working, like pens that are out of ink.
  5. Go over your knickknacks, photos and other office décor, if you have any. I love having things around me that inspire and energize me, but it can go too far. If your space is cluttered with memorabilia, try choosing one particular item to display and putting the rest away. Rotate a new item out every month.
  6. Clear off your walls. Weed out what’s on your bulletin board or inspiration board.
  7. Clean out your electronic gadgets. Are there chargers and cords for devices you no longer own, or outdated devices? (Be sure to dispose of electronics appropriately.)
  8. Clean out your shelves. Do you have business books or reference guides taking up space on your shelves? See if you can find the same information online and eliminate the clutter.
  9. Clean out your file cabinets. Purge any paper records you no longer need. Shred them or hire a shredding service. Organize any papers you need to keep. If possible, scan and digitize your records—you’ll save space and they’ll be easier to access.
  10. Clean your office. Wipe down your work surface. Clean any windows in your office. Vacuum and/or sweep. Get into the nooks and crannies so your workspace really feels clean.
  11. Before you put things back in the drawers, on the desk and on the shelves, assess what is and isn’t working in your workspace. Do you have to lean over awkwardly to access your file drawer or strain your shoulder reaching to answer the phone? Place the tools you use where you can access them easily.
  12. If you don’t already have one, add a recycling bin or can to your workspace. You may feel better tossing paper if you know it’s going to get recycled.
  13. Clean the screens of your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone and any other devices according to the manufacturers’ directions.
  14. Clean the crumbs out of your keyboards.
  15. Perform maintenance on your peripherals. Printers, copiers, multifunction machines and other office equipment need regular maintenance. Look up the manuals online and follow the recommended steps.
  16. Set up a system for handling incoming papers that works for you and your business. Some people thrive at a messy desk (I’m one of them), but you need some organization to that mess. Use baskets or inboxes to corral your piles and maintain order.
  17. Make a list of anything in your office that needs repairing, whether it’s a squeaky wheel on your desk chair or a problem with the light switch. If you need a professional to handle the repair, set up the appointment now.
  18. Stock up. Do you need to stock up on toner cartridges, pens, file folders or other office supplies? Place an order online and have them delivered.
  19. Clear your computer’s cache.
  20. Move downloaded files from the download folder to the appropriate place or delete them.
  21. Run your computer cleaning app. Look for one that identifies junk, large files and duplicate files so you can remove them.
  22. Uninstall apps you no longer use (Don’t just move them to the trash; make sure they’re properly uninstalled.)
  23. Move old files that you don’t access frequently, but still want to keep, to a separate Archive folder so they’re not taking up visual space.
  24. Delete browser bookmarks you no longer use. Organize your remaining bookmarks into categories.
  25. Review the apps that launch when you start up your computer. Launching too many apps automatically can slow your system down, so limit it to those you need every day.

You’ll probably need to set aside a full day for this project. If you can’t spare time during the workweek, do it on the weekend. If you start burning out, focus on the physical cleanup first and then do the computer cleanup the next day.

Finally, have your employees perform the same organization steps, so your whole business will be in sync and ready to start 2018.