Organize Your Desk and Boost Your Productivity in 4 Easy Steps

Have you ever wished there was an easy way to increase your productivity? If so, you’re in luck. An organized workspace actually tricks the brain into making better choices throughout the day, according to Psychological Science. In fact, an organized desk can help you choose healthier snacks, be more generous (surprise!) and — yes — boost your productivity.

Organize your desk today by following these four easy steps.

1. Start With the Obvious

First, make strides by tackling the most expected desk organization tasks. Roll up your sleeves and route incoming phone calls to voicemail temporarily. Close (or just silence) your email app and set a timer for five minutes.

Now, throw away snack wrappers, old newspapers, expired coupons and random candies. Toss out any obvious offenders and you’ll instantly feel better. Putting miles under your tires feels great and it generates momentum for the next step.

2. Sort the Rest

Next, categorize everything you haven’t trashed. For this step, many experts recommend clearing your desk and drawers entirely. Pile all your things elsewhere to deliberately and thoughtfully determine what goes back to your workspace. If you don’t have room, try a different strategy, like organizing from left to right or tackling one drawer at a time.

The concept is simple: One by one, put everything into a category with like items. You can use these grouping examples to get started:

  • Things you use every day that cannot be digitized; for example, your stapler, wrist rest and family pictures
  • Things you use daily that can be digitized. Think calendar, to-do list, sticky notes and production schedule
  • Items to be filed away for reference
  • Actionable items that take less than five minutes to complete (e.g., a form that merely needs your signature)
  • Projects that require time, energy and dedicated focus
  • Items to take home; for example, an invitation to your coworker’s fundraiser or that box of cold medicine you don’t need anymore

3. The Fun Part

Now that your things are sorted, you get to arrange them in their new places. Before dumping items haphazardly into drawers, order them from most urgent to least, with respect to accessibility. Then, as you position each group of items neatly where it now belongs, use a simple spreadsheet or a mobile app like Google Keep to make a note of its location. This way, you’ll always know where to find everything. For items that can be digitized, upgrade to electronic versions so they’re off your desk forever.

4. Hone Your Habits

Congratulations! Everything is in its place. Now, structure your routine to keep it that way. Decide what you’ll do when you encounter these everyday events:

  • You find an old cord to some electronic gadget you no longer have.
  • You receive a coupon for a store you love but haven’t visited in a year.
  • You receive three papers during an office huddle: an earnings report, an office newsletter and meeting minutes.
  • You find a receipt from six months ago that should have gone on your expense report.

These incidents are common invitations for potential clutter. Some need your attention, a few must be filed or trashed and others should be kept within reach for daily or weekly use. The trick to staying organized is having a plan for after your cleaning session. That way, your well-oiled productivity system stays intact.

Do you feel better just reading about desk organization? Imagine how great you’ll feel after you actually organize your desk. Share this article (along with your dramatic before-and-after pictures) with a coworker to spread the goodness.

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