By Kristin Granero
It can seem like a nuisance to tidy up as you go (especially when it’s hard enough to keep up with a growing workload), but being organized can prove extremely helpful—even crucial—when it comes to finding an important document in a pinch or keeping track of key assignments. Find out how to de-clutter (and hopefully de-stress) with these five tips.
1. Do a clean sweep
The first move in getting more organized is addressing the damage that’s already done. Set aside some time before or after your work day (you might also find you’re most productive over the weekend if your office is open) to go through folders (including digital) and drawers and get rid of anything you no longer need. You’ll want to shred anything containing confidential information for added security and empty your trash (both under your desk and on your computer) to ensure it’s actually gone. This is also a good time to assess additional clutter such as your extra shoe pile or personal nick-nacks. You don’t need to hold on to every premium item or business card (add it to your contact list!) a client gives you.
2. Keep important documents at arm’s length
Once you’ve done a thorough cleanse (Bonus points if you take time to actually wipe down your desk, keyboard, and monitor!), you’ll want to start properly organizing the items you still need. Create and label folders (physical and digital) and get in the habit of stashing important docs right away to find them easily and avoid future mayhem. This is also a good time to bookmark any web pages you visit regularly or may need to access down the line.
3. Minimize your paper trail
Of course, a great way to keep papers from piling up on your desk or on your desktop is to cut down the amount of documents coming your way in the first place. Try to have bills and regular updates emailed to you, and avoid printing papers unless you truly have to (this will also help from a security standpoint).
4. Plan various ‘purge’ dates
For everything you can’t avoid, keep a “Discard” bin and aim to dump it weekly. Set up your email so items auto-delete after a certain period of time, and consult with your company’s compliance department regarding how (and for how long) you should be holding on to office documents. You might want to make a note in your calendar so you don’t forget to remove them when the time comes.
5. Maintain a running to-do list
Now that you’ve managed to clear your space (and hopefully avoid having it get too messy in the future), aim to clear your mind by dedicating energy to any outstanding tasks, such as sending emails or filing an expense report. Then, keep a running list of items as they come up so you can highlight as you go. A good rule of thumb is to add calendar items for meetings and due dates as soon as they pop up (and it doesn’t hurt to keep a notepad next to the bed should anything come to mind at night).
Kristin Granero has 10 years of experience in journalism and digital media, having written for publications like Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Women’sI Health and Teen Vogue, and managed social campaigns for TV networks like HBO. When she’s not exploring the latest industry trends or serving up tips for Ed, she’s searching for the latest and greatest guac in New York City.