The famous Albert Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
While the literal and rhythmic meaning of these words by Albert Einstein may seem logical, almost all studies conducted afterwards in this area concluded with a totally opposite perspective.
All findings and experiments done to know the relationship between a cluttered office and the productivity level of the desk bearer, proved Albert Einstein to be wrong.
In fact, a cluttered desk was seen to impair and impact the overall performance of the participants of these studies.
But still, if you think that your cluttered office desk or room is an indication of how much involved and dedicated you are in your work, you are totally wrong.
Besides, to tell the truth, try presenting your opinion to any workplace analyst or expert that being messy means you are working hard to complete your office assignments.
On hearing this, they would obviously respond with a question on what specific tasks are you really working hard on?
Do those tasks include countless and otherwise avoidable attempts at working hard towards finding the right stuff at the right time?
Or is it related to finding things that should be easily and readily available to you but which every time get buried under a load of unnecessary clusters of objects on your office desk?
How would you feel then? We believe you would naturally feel embarrassed and humiliated.
So to save your time and any embarrassment from not only making wrong choices, but by also having everything available at the right moment when needed, this article is here to help you.
In this article, you will discuss 19 ways, tips and suggestions to help you have a well-organized and tidy office space.
19 Tips for having an organized work space in 2021 and become extra productive by doing more
Maintaining the stuff in your office is nothing extraordinary or out of way.
Just like you keep your wardrobe organized, have properly assigned jars and cabinets in your refrigerator and kitchen at home for keeping different food items, organizing your office desk is also the same in every aspect and manner.
It’s just that people usually take a few things for granted and set priorities differently in every situation.
Since at home it is about your personal stuff and belongings, you care for it more than how you behave in relation to your office stuff.
For example, misplacing a pen at the office means simply getting a new one issued from the stationery department. But at home, each and every penny spent counts.
Therefore an organized or an unorganized office desk also depicts how much value, respect and responsibility you show towards things that aren’t directly related to you.
So now let us look at our compiled list of 19 ways to stay organized at your office too and prove to be more productive and responsible in 2021.
1. Rethink about your job description
Once again rethink your job description or your role in the organization. This way you will know about the main and essential things that you mostly need for its fulfillment.
Does your job involve using a computer or it involves working through hard copy paper documents or both?
While many offices today have reduced their paper usage and some even have a zero paper use policy, it is still possible that the nature of your job involves working with different documents, forms and applications.
So think accordingly now. Allocate your desk space between how to manage having easy access to working on papers and computers simultaneously.
2. Clear your desk first from everything
Once you know what your job description is and what things you will need more to carry it out, you can now as a first step, clear your desk of everything that is lying on it.
Make it completely empty from top to bottom i.e. the upper surface and beneath it where you keep your dustbin and its drawers and selves also, if any.
This way, you will now know how much total space you actually have available.
It usually happens that even though your work desk is huge and has plenty of space; the clutter on it causes it to look smaller and not enough to accommodate everything.
So once you clear it completely, you will realize that it is not the desk size that was a problem, but the way you were utilizing it that caused all trouble.
3. Make a list of the things on your desk that bothers you most
There are things on every one’s office desk that keep on bothering again and again.
It could be anything. Like sometimes it’s a telephone that cannot be relocated because of the short connection cable.
Other times it can be your stationary that keeps disappearing from the place you saw or placed it the last time after use.
So find a solution for these types of things and see what can be done.
Get a stationary holder that can hold things like pen, pencil, eraser, scale, sticky notes, highlighters, markers, or even your mobile phone so that you do not have to pick it every time to check who is calling and texting.
For things like telephone or scanner with a short cable, ask the maintenance department in the office to find a suitable solution for it.
4. Categorize everything that you gathered from your desk
Next categorize everything that you just cleaned or gathered from your office desktop, shelves, drawers, etc.
See what and when do these things become important.
If anything seems less or not at all important, or something that you haven’t used in a long time, maybe it could be discarded or shared with some colleague who might be in need of it.
5. Return any electronic devices that you do not need
Sometimes when you get promoted or transferred in some other department, you already have a few things on your desk like any electronic devices that you do not need, such as a printer or a scanner.
While most offices today prefer having a single printer and scanner for each department or for a bunch of users, this does not apply to every employee.
Some individuals whose routine work involves scanning and printing tons of sheets of documents are usually given their own set of a printer and scanner.
This helps in making them stay at their place and do more while also avoiding any delays in using the other shared devices.
6. Arrange all categories into groups
Since you might not have enough space to put everything separately based on smaller categories, it would be good if you could make larger groups of objects that have the same purpose or nature.
7. Make labels and stick them on important places and stuff
Make proper several different labels and stick them on different places and stuff such as your shelves, drawers, files, folders, document trays and even your stationary.
This is the most suitable way of organizing your stuff.
This does not only help you but can also be suitable when you aren’t available at your seat.
For example, while in a meeting or outside, you can send or call someone to bring something from your work desk by mentioning the label where it can be found.
Sticking labels can also help in making sure that anything you share with other people such as a scale, file, stapler, etc. gets returned to you after use or at day end.
If possible, an added advantage could be to make and use different color labels for different purposes.
8. Keep folders, files or basket trays for incoming and outgoing documents
Forgetting to dispatch some important documents for the courier or not attending any urgent postal mails can be a usual problem on a messy office desk.
So as a solution, it would be nice if you could have basket trays, files or folders marked with incoming and outgoing labels to easily remember doing the first things first.
9. Keep regular use items nearby
While arranging your desk again, place the items that come in regular use nearby.
This way you would not have to stand up or stretch your hands or even open up a drawer every time you need them.
10. Change your habits
By changing habits, we mean adopting ways that discourage making your office a mess again.
If you have the habit of taking out things from drawers or documents from files and folders and then leaving them without returning them to their place, it won’t be any use to arrange your desk.
This is because sooner or later, you will again have a cluttered working desk and would again be facing embarrassing moments like you did before.
So make sure that the effort you are putting in this time should be one time only and last as long as possible.
11. Use time based segregation for important documents
This helps a lot when your job involves some sort of record keeping or issuing reports or documents to outsider’s i.e. general public.
For example, people come to you to collect their reports or documents that have been processed by your organization.
Of course you get piles of these every day from other departments in your company but not every person is bound to come on time and collect their reports and documents just after the first notification.
So you place them in boxes marked with their issuing dates and shift them forward as they get late.
Then in rare cases once any document stays with you for very long, you know that it is time to forward it to the archive store department, etc.
This helps in not accumulating unnecessary or unwanted documents on your desk and moving them to a more suitable location step-by-step each day.
It also helps for example when you have to keep a record of daily newspapers or incoming mails.
12. Return other people’s stuff and classified documents
While sorting the stuff on your desk, you will certainly come across things that you have borrowed from other people and which got buried in the clutter on your desk.
So if it is marked, it is easy to return. Otherwise recall if you can or roam around asking your colleagues if the unknown items found on your desk belongs to them.
Also return any important or classified documents that you have been issued on purpose but which you haven’t returned to the issuing authority.
13. Use drawer organizers
Many people keep the top drawer or the smallest drawer for keeping the small stuff.
Things like stationary, stamps and stamping pads, tape dispensers, clips, rubber bands, sticky notes, USB storage devices or memory cards, etc. are mostly kept together in a single small drawer.
But again, this stuff can easily mix up and form a clutter within a drawer.
Also, small items are bound to displace whenever you open and close the drawer abruptly.
To counter this issue, it is a good idea to use a plastic or acrylic i.e. transparent material made compartment tray or organizer.
Remember to select a drawer organizer that can easily fit in your drawer and allow maximum divisions for keeping different things separately.
14. Increase your storage space
If possible, you may also want to keep a separate basket or tray stand next to your desk for keeping documents and other stuff.
15. Add supplements
In addition to keeping a basket or tray stand next to your desk, you may also use a bunch of clips and hooks to hang things like smartphone charging cables, keys, earphones, etc.
16. Use big size calendar cum daily planners
A small sized stand up calendar and a daily planner diary are two of the most common things that you will find on every person’s desk in any office.
Keeping these two separate things would require more space. So why not use something that is a combination of both.
Use a calendar that includes a daily planner as well. Usually such calendars have huge pages for each month and can easily be spread on your office desk surface or pinned to a bulletin board.
17. Use a bulletin board
Many people use short diaries to record important things but then forget to open and check the reminders.
So a good thing could be to have a bulletin board at your desk and get it placed at the most convenient and viewable spot so that you get reminded of what is coming up next.
18. Apply the same to your computer desktop
If you haven’t been good at keeping your office desk clean, there is a possibility that you lack in keeping your virtual desktop or computer desktop screen clean as well.
So start cleaning it now.
Delete the unnecessary files and folders, and place the important ones in proper folders and move to the right location.
You may also keep a designated folder on your desktop screen and keep all the daily use temporary files and stuff in it.
This way you do not have to run through each file at day end to delete it from your desktop screen.
Just a single click and the entire folder gets empty for next day use.
19. Organize your emails
Similar to organizing your desktop screen, manage your email correspondences as well.
Use the general inbox folder to send and receive temporary emails only.
People with whom you regularly communicate could be assigned a separate folder in your email inbox for easy access and to track past communication history.
Hopefully that was it for the reading part. And now it’s time to do the practical stuff i.e. take the necessary action and set everything straight in your office.
But remember that a major part of what has been discussed in this article should be a onetime endeavor.
So try to retain the changes that you have made by changing your habits and placing small daily routine checkmarks like cleaning the unnecessary stuff every day at day end from your desk and desktop both, etc.