Time Management

5 Desk Organization Tips to Boost Productivity

April 25, 2018

Hello, I'm Rachel
I’m a busy mom, entrepreneur, and an expert in organizing your home, office, and life. I believe in the profound impact of organizing on every aspect of life. 
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I’ve noticed that having an office space that is beautifully designed and organized isn’t just a trend. Companies seem to be taking the time and are investing more in their employees and their surroundings by bringing in experts to create better work environments. From how the furniture is designed to the office, companies have taken notice of the positive impacts that organized office spaces can have on their employees and their productivity.

But, what if you have a less than typical work environment? What if you’re working in a co-working space, home office, or have an unpredictable office environment due to travel? Getting your desk organized (regardless of what your desk may be!) is possible.

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5 Desk Organization Tips to Boost Productivity 

First and foremost, accessibility is key. Your desk is the command center, which is a low-tech, high-reward system that will cut down on the time you spend looking for what you need on a daily basis. The purpose of a command center is to get all of your essentials in one place so that you know not only where to put them, but where to find them.

When you’re planning how you will set up your desk, think about the items that you need on a daily basis, like your computer, and the items that you reach for regularly, like pen and paper, your calendar, etc. These are the non-negotiables that you need to make room for in your space so that you can easily access them every day. Then, for the items that you still need access to but might not need as frequently, like paper files, business stationery, and office supplies, create a dedicated spot to store these items. Again, you’ll want to give priority placement to those items that you are reaching for regularly and then store away the rest.

Products come in every color, pattern, and finish under the sun these days, so if you are in the market for products choose based on your preference. If you don’t like manila folders then don’t choose them. Honestly, it’s as simple as that. You can’t always control what goes on in your daily work life, but you can control the products that you bring in to aid your work day.

Color can also indicate categories and priority level. By assigning a color to a category in your business, like the type of project that you are working on, you’ll be able to visually separate the work categories without having to skim every email or file to find what you are looking for. Also, color can help to prioritize your time. Marking urgent and time sensitive projects and emails in a color, like red, will allow for you to always tell what needs to get worked on immediately. If you’re running short on time or have a quick 15-minutes to work on a project, head straight to these priority colors so that you can start checking them off of your list.

I know that there are some papers that you can’t get to immediately, which is why I use a filing system to help prioritize what needs to be read. Then, when I have time in my day to actually focus on my paper I can pull out the folder and take a look and act on the papers immediately.  The reason that I love this system is that a soon as you get into the system of doing it just takes minutes to clean up and there are no more piles of papers stacking up on your desk.

One solution is to use an open top file box with vertical hanging file folders that you can label based on specific categories. I prefer vertical hanging options so that papers don’t get lost at the bottom of the pile. Make sure that your file box doesn’t have a lid, that way it’ll be much easier to transfer things in and out. An accordion file also works great if you need to take your papers with you for travel or to and from the office.

To keep your clutter at a minimum, make sure you set yourself up for success. Having a large enough recycle bin and trash can to collect unnecessary and no longer needed items is an instead way to get rid of clutter.

Get into the habit of clearing your desk at the end of the day. This daily ritual of hitting reset will help you to avoid the paper pile-up and keep your desk tidy so that when you get to work the next day you are able to pick up where you left off.

It’s easy to stare at a long to-do list or thing through all of your top priorities and feel overwhelmed as to where you even begin. The important thing is is to just get started. If you’re tired of looking at the mound of paperwork on your desk, schedule time into your day like you would for a meeting to start sifting through the growing stack.

Here are a couple of other ways to help manage your time:

  • If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now. When you’re scanning through your to-do list and see an easy task that you know will take under 5 minutes, address it right away.

  • Break it down. Break down your big goals, like a website relaunch, into manageable bite-size chunks so that you are working towards the overall goal but can make forward progress on getting the important steps checked off of your list.

  • Map it out. Before you head out the door at closing time take a couple of minutes to plan out the next day.

  • Make a priority list. Your long list of things to check off may seem good in theory, but the reality is there are only so many hours in a day to dedicate to getting things done. Create a bite-sized priority list that you can run through (3-5 tasks) and that takes priority over all of the other to-dos.

Ready for some more tips? I shared my tips on Great Day Washington alongside JLL, a company that has successfully created beautiful office spaces while remaining true to their company’s brand. Click here for the full story, if you’d like to take a look!


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I'm Rachel, founder of Rachel & Company

I’m dedicated to helping you create a lifestyle that is more organized, sustainable, and joyously livable.

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