Sometimes, a cluttered workspace can clutter your mind. Whether you work in a tiny cube or an executive office suite, it’s important to keep things tidy so that you can reach your maximum level of productivity. One way to check and see whether or not your setup is efficient is to take the three-minute test. Think of a particularly important sheet of paper, file, or binder that is hiding somewhere in your workspace. If you can find it in three minutes or less, you’re good to go. If not, here are some tips to help you rearrange your cubicle so that you’ll be able to find the important items you need in a flash.
A Place for Paper
Workplaces wouldn’t function without paper-based information like memos, receipts, sticky notes and meeting minutes. This is unfortunate news for your desk, because often times there isn’t a place for you to put these extraneous items until you get around to filing and organizing them. One way to keep things in order is to designate a bin on the corner of your work station for these types of articles until you can digest them properly. Then, you can decide whether to shred or save them, rather than letting them pile up around you.
Organization at Arm’s Length
Filing cabinets are a staple in offices everywhere. Yet most of the time these storage units aren’t a part of your personal workspace. For this reason, your filing can sometimes pile up on top of your desk. To rectify this and tidy up your space, ask your boss if you can add a small filing cabinet or drawer beneath your desk. If it’s within arm’s reach, you’re much more likely to keep important documents in order. For an added productivity bonus, you can file while you’re on hold for a phone call.
Color-Code Your Tasks
It can be overwhelming to walk into work and see a pile of folders and paper sitting on your workspace. Even more overwhelming is when you don’t know which of the items is urgent, which can wait, and which isn’t important at all. One way to avoid this added level of stress is to create a color-coded system on top of your desk. Choose a color, say blue, to represent items that can chill on your desk for a while. From there, use increasingly warm colors until you reach red, which will signify that a piece of work needs to be completed ASAP. This will help you prioritize your schedule each day and will give your to-dos a designated home on your desk.
List Everything Out
Next to your color-coded stacks of assignments, it’s a good idea to place a calendar or notebook where you hash out what you’ll accomplish each day and week. As you cross off the things that you complete, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that inspires you to stay on task and continue. At the end of each week or month, you can reflect on everything that you’ve completed. It’ll even come in handy during performance and compensation reviews, as you’ll have a written account of everything you’ve done.
Modestly Make it Your Own
Finally, you should feel comfortable in the place where you work. A cubicle can often feel stark and uninspiring, especially if your job requires any amount of creativity. For this reason, it’s okay to embellish your workspace with a few items that make it your own. You can use family photos, wall decals, plaques with inspirational quotes, etc. The important thing is not to clutter your space with these types of items. Just make sure that what you use to decorate is something that means something to you because these types of items are sure to inspire you.
The hardest thing about this process is starting it. Carve out a few hours one day after work or visit the office on a weekend when no one is around. Toss what you don’t need and put everything you do need in its proper place. Once you find the proper balance of efficiency and eye-pleasing decor, you’ll see your productivity levels surge. This will only make you a more important member of the team and a happier, less stressed one at that.
Adrienne is a freelance writer who loves blogging about productivity and professional development. Follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin if you’d like to get in touch or see more of her work!