Organize Your Workspace, Improve the Way You Work
A friend of mine described herself as “born organized.” I don’t share that virtue. For me, things invariably pile up and in those rare instances when I clean out a shelf or a drawer, I find things I had no idea I put there.
Being unorganized at work can be even worse than being unorganized at home. Having to spend time locating papers or supplies can make a definite dent in your productivity. If that’s your situation, it may be time to declutter, the word that’s currently in vogue when your stuff gets the better of you.
Decluttering entails such things as re-evaluating your belongings, identifying your trouble spots, and organizing your surroundings by importance. It’s recommended that rather than decluttering a little at a time, you remove everything from your shelves, desk, and drawers and start from scratch. Then you can determine the right place for each item.
An idea I especially like is having an I-don’t-know drawer. This is the place for things you know you want to keep but aren’t sure where to put them. And given the inevitable messiness that builds up each day, spend a few minutes at the end of the day straightening up, so you can start each day with an organized workspace.
By the way, this idea of a place for everything is a fundamental concept among professional chefs. It even has a name: mise-en-place, which is French for “put in place” and means gathering and arranging the ingredients and tools needed for cooking. This concept is a way of life for culinary professionals. It enables them to focus on only the aspects that they need to be working on and avoid any distractions. There is something to be said for applying mise-en-place to the workplace.
It may be that the way you do your work can also benefit from some decluttering. For example, starting each day with a list of the tasks for that day can help you stay on target. Focusing on one task at a time rather than multitasking can help minimize desk messiness.
To the extent you can minimize interruptions, you’ll be able to concentrate on that one thing—or, if necessary, several things—and not lose time regaining your focus after each interruption. Anything you can do to avoid distractions may enable you to be more productive, even if your desk looks like mine.