Simplify your Work Life: 18 Tips to Organize your Office
1. Write down your goals. What do you want to accomplish? How do you want your work life to look like? Where are you going? Where do you want to be a year from now? 2 years? 5 years? What is your ideal job description?
2. Do a brain dump. Write down all the things that need organizing in your work life and home life as well. What are the areas that need to get organized? What is going on in your life and at work that needs your attention? What projects do you have going on? Write everything down that comes to mind and don’t censor. When you’re finished, look at your “brain dump” and create a list of things that need to get done. Then come up with small action steps that you can start implementing right now.
3. Write a To-Do List. Consider using a list making app. I love “Wunderlist” (www.wunderlist.com) but I’m sure there are a lot of other apps that let you organize your lists as well. Wunderlist lets you
– have as many lists as you like
– add notes to items on your list
– share lists with others
– lets you collect interesting websites that you might want to read later
– let’s you drag and drop the order of your items on the list
– syncs with your other devices
– it’s free!
Divide your to-do list by category:
A – needs to be completed today or this week
B – Needs to be completed this month
C – You want to complete it when you have some extra time
Schedule A list tasks in your daily planner, try to not schedule more than three, so you don’t get overwhelmed. At the beginning of the month start scheduling B tasks in your planner.
Other possible lists:
your goals – monthly, yearly, 5 years
your bucket list
your to buy list
project idea list
travel packing list
your magic money list (a list of things you want to buy when you have some extra money)
spring cleaning list
It’s really nice to have all your lists in one place. I find I often write the same lists over and over and then lose them, and write them again. Wunderlist – or any similar software application – is a really great organizing tool.
4. Declutter your office. Get rid of what you don’t need. Go through all of your stuff at your office and/or your home office and get rid of everything you don’t need or use or love. Find a new home for everything that is not work related. Donate, recycle, trash, sell, but make sure you get it out of there!
5. Decrease your paper piles. Get rid of as much paper as possible. Bills that are older than a year can be thrown out. Instruction booklets can be thrown out and instead downloaded online and archived. Consider scanning in important documents and store them in a cloud app or back them up on your external hard drive. Any reference books you have can probably be let go of, if you can look up the information online. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, college text books etc. Consider scanning all of your photos and your children’s art work as well. Digital files take up very little space!
6. Have an in-basket on or near your desk. Collect all the papers scattered around your workspace and put them into your in-basket. Then sort papers:
- action (bills to pay, applications to fill out etc.)
– to read
– to file
– to recycle
– to shred
7. Hang a pinboard on your wall. Pin interesting magazine articles, inspirational cards and quotes, business cards, brochures of interest, cartoons, important reminders etc. etc. Any phone number and important information that are written on sticky notes or scraps of paper can be pinned until you have time to write them down in your planner.
8. Hang a dry erase board. Write down your top 3 or 5 priorities for the day on a dry erase board. Erase when done! Write a new list every morning.
9. Keep your inbox at zero! With each email, you either a) delete it or b) archive it.
- reply to the email and then archive or delete
– save the attachment and then archive or delete
– add information to your to do list, then archive or delete
– add dates, appointments etc. to calendar, then archive or delete
– unsubscribe and delete
Consider turning off your notifications for your email. Decide when and how often you want to check your email and deal with everything then.
10. Set priorities. Focus on what is important. Say no to everything that is not important to you and your personal and professional values. Get clear on what your priorities are right now. Then begin eliminating everything else.
11. Open your snail mail over a recycling bin, tossing envelopes and dealing with the remaining paper in one of the three ways; a) file, b) act on or c) toss.
12. Slow down. Instead of stressing yourself out attempting to multi-task, it is much more efficient to single-task. Work on one task, finish that task, then move on to the next task. As you are more focused, your work becomes more efficient and it seems that the slower you go the more gets done, simply because you are more present, you live and work in the moment. It’s the power of now. ;-)
13. Schedule time for breaks. Spend your break doing something relaxing and re-energizing like: enjoy a cup of herbal tea, meditate for 10 minutes, go for a walk to the coffee shop, take a 10 minute power nap or do nothing.
14. Organize your daily planner. Decide if you want to use a paper organizer or a digital one, but stick with one, otherwise you end up transferring appointments and information which can get very confusing and stressful. Figure out what you need to include your planner: blank paper for taking notes, a monthly or weekly calendar, an address book? Extra space for loose papers, stickers and post-its to mark important pages? Tabs to separate papers by project? A space for to-do lists? Once you know what you need to be organized, find a planner that works for you. The “arc” system (from Staples) lets you beautifully design your personal planner just the way you like it. I’m not affiliated with Staples, but I really like the freedom this system gives you.
15. Arrive on time. Figure out at what time you need to arrive at work or at a meeting, then add 10 minutes. That way you will never rush which can easily lead to mishaps and accidents. When you know you have an extra 10 minutes, you will take your time, go slowly, breathe deeply and stay centered. Om.
16. Stop working 15 minutes early. Tidy up your desk and check your to-do list. Cross off tasks you have accomplished that day and write a new to-do list for the next day.
17. Schedule a digital de-clutter day. Schedule a monthly digital de-cluttering day to clean up your files and get rid of ones you no longer want or need. Unsubscribe from newsletters and blogs you no longer read. Avoid desktop disorder. If your computer desktop is a mess, put documents in folders, delete duplicates, put sub folders under bigger categories like “business”, “personal” and “kid’s stuff.” Don’t leave documents on your desktop, keep them filed.
18. Unplug on weekends. Pick a day of the week, maybe Sundays, or the whole weekend, and use that time to unplug from technology. Turn off your computer, smart phone, tablet, everything and just take a little mini vacation. Go outside for a walk, play with your kids, bake cookies, do something non-technological! Let your soul dance, let your body breathe, connect with friends and family in ‘real’ time and space.
In the spirit of simplifying her work life, the Daily Goddess will now publish blog posts only during the week, but not on the weekend. So, for the future, expect daily inspirations in your inbox Monday to Friday, and if you decide to unplug on the weekend, you will not be missing any divine messages. :-)
Enjoy your weekend!