One of the exciting things about getting a job is when you are inducted to your new office. No matter how good or plain it looks the first time you see it, you’ll always imagine ways to make your workstation more you. But once you’ve turned your cranny into something that looks like your room, you get lost in the forest of paperwork, office supplies, and toys you’ve accumulated.
The same thing goes for when you start your own business at home where you converted your study to a full-fledged office. Once you’ve acclimated to your workstation, it’s going to feel homier and the next thing you knew, you’ve made an exact version of your home in your office.
While this is not exactly a bad thing, lack of order in the office can decrease your productivity and affect your overall performance. As such, you need to form a way of organizing not just your office but also everything in it. Here are six ways you can restore symmetry in your workplace without necessarily breaking the bank.
#1. Go back to square one
Square one was when you were first introduced to your workspace that barely had anything in it apart from the computer used by the previous occupant atop a plain grey desk surrounded by partitions of the same color. By now, you’ve surely claimed your territory by filling it with your stuff like files, books, supplies, and coffee mug. But if you’re the kind of person who has a habit of keeping everything that is handed to you at work or hoard the trinkets from your out-of-town trips, you’ve probably accumulated a fair share of clutter in your cubicle. And whether you admit it or not, there are things that you should rid your workspace so that you can function better and make room for more important effects such as an in-and-out tray and that action figure that symbolizes your spirit animal.
But before you determine which of your things should go to this and that area, you should first identify the ones that you must keep and those that should go. Empty your desk and drawers of your things and sort them into these two piles. Remember to hang onto the ones that you really need at work; the rest will either have to be put or thrown away. For instance, if you have a canister full of pens and markers, check which ones still have ink and chuck those that are already dry. While you’re spring cleaning, group your supplies according to kind so that it will be easier for you to put them back when you’re ready.
#2. Assign activity areas
If you are awarded with a big office, it is only wise to make use of every inch of the room as much as you can. If for example your job involves a lot of rendering design, you can elect your desk to be your main workspace. You can position your computer a bit to the side and leave a blank space on the table for when you decide to draw by hand. To minimize the clutter on your work area, pick a section of your office that will serve as storage area for, say, files you don’t use often but should be accessible in case you need them.
You can also designate a cabinet for your supplies. Don’t forget though to keep some of the basics you often use in your desk drawer so that you wouldn’t have to walk to and from your shelf when you need to replenishment. If your office space permits it, you can also throw in a separate table for entertaining guests or hold brainstorming sessions so that any papers or samples will not be mixed with the ones you’re doing on your desk.
#3. Establish a flow
One of the perks of having an organized office is easy access to things when you need them but this will only work efficiently when you create a flow. Take kitchens for example. Many interior designers advise that the refrigerator is placed as close to the sink so that cleaning or thawing food will take less effort and time. This same principle can be applied to how you arrange the furniture in your office.
Establish a scheme that will allow you to reach for items that you use all the time without leaving your desk. You can put away the less essential stuff in compartmentalized shelves. Another mechanism you can try is the left-to-right system (or right-to-left, depending on your preference) where everything you need to do are deposited on the left side of your desk and they will only get to the middle when you’re ready to work on it.
Once you’re done, move the accomplished papers to the right end of your desk. Before the day ends, dispatch the completed tasks to the next department so that you can unclutter your table again.
#4. Maximize your walls
Speaking of compartmentalized shelves, a part of the office you can be really creative with is your blank walls. The more you are able to maximize your walls for holding things and decorating your office, the more you space you’ll have to move around the room. The great news is there are plenty of ways you can liven up your office partitions and even save up on new shelves.
One idea would be installing a pegboard on your wall and hang baskets that can hold paper supplies, magazines, or catalogues. But if you need to store heavier items, you can use painted crates and stack them on top of each other. This is ideal for holding books or sample products that you want to display, especially if you entertain clients in your office. If you already have a few sticks of filing cabinets, you can give them a new look by repainting them or covering the surface with contact paper.
If your desk is facing the wall, use this space to hang clipboards where you can tuck notes, swatches, and receipts. You can also primp these boards using contact paper or stickers. If you wish to put up décor such as photos, posters, and a clock, you can use a colored pegboard to hang these things so that they wouldn’t have to take up space in your table.
#5. Adapt a unique labeling system
The thing with working in an office all day is that you’re still prone to amassing tons of files, email and digital organizers notwithstanding. Not only that, you will also have to store supplies and tools and the last thing you want to happen is to turn your office upside down when looking for something specific. Avoid such trouble by investing on a trusty label maker and use this to delegate a place for everything. If you’re not big on labels, you can also use boxes and folders of different colors to put away files and trinkets.
Apart from paper, another office nightmare you can put an end to is the web your cables are creating just behind your computer. Not only tangled cords are an eyesore, you also risk tripping on them if not bundled properly. Fasten a hook under your table and let the cables hang on to it. You can also use colored tapes or bread tags to label the cables so that you will know which one you’ll have to unplug when needed.
#6. Upgrade your guns
Sometimes, the only way to reestablish order in your office is by replacing equipment with new ones. For instance, if you’re using two printers whose job can be done by a relatively newer model, why not invest on a new printer and save money on ink, maintenance, and electricity? Also, if you prefer to see everything in your monitor instead of tucking your notes on a corkboard, buy instead another screen and keep your desk void of sticky notes. If your budget permits it, you can also repaint your walls to give your office a brand new vibe. You can consult a color psychology chart to determine what look will fit your office best.
Remember that your organizational system is only as good as how steadfast you are in implementing it. If your workplace must stay organized, you need to follow a schedule of filing and arranging religiously. Whether you do decide to do it on a weekly or fortnightly basis, make sure that no file is forgotten and the supplies are refilled. This way, you’ll eliminate the hassle of reaching for stuff in the wrong places or worse, when your stocks are out.
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