Clutter Out, Clarity In
Define your space and keep it organized to free up more time.
By Anna Griffin
Clutter distracts, hinders concentration and drains energy and dollars. Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best: "Out of clutter, find simplicity." According to the American Demographic Society, the average U.S. executive wastes six weeks each year searching messy desks and files for misplaced information. That's five hours a week, or one hour a day. What can we do? In her book Common Sense Organizing (Champion Press, 2005), Debbie Williams says to begin by defining your space. Then use whatever storage solutions are necessary to keep your office organized. Keep your desk and office clutter-free by providing a dedicated place for everything.
Get it off the desk and floor: Use mail holders, pencil holders, file folders, bulletin boards, in-boxes.
Clear the clutter: Put on the voicemail. Inform colleagues you're working on a high-priority project. Then grab a box of lawn-size trash bags, close the door and put everything you don't use or need in the trash.
Start with the floor: Then move to bookcases, cabinets, desk. You will find things more easily and you will look like you've got your work under control (even if you haven't). You will have more space than you imagined.
Preserve trees and space: Instead of printing out every document, save them in electronic folders on your computer. Label folders appropriately so you can find them quickly.
Rehabiliate your inner pack rat: When mail, reports, drafts and proposals come in, deal with them immediately, or at least file them in a dedicated area. Set a time each week to go through your in-box, mail and desktop to keep those spaces clutter-free.
Preserve clutter-free zones: Now that you've cleared out your personal space, take a few minutes each day to keep it that way. Before leaving each evening, write your to-do list for tomorrow and straighten your desk - at least in neat piles. Your cleared area will bring you more peace and free your mind to think more creative thoughts.
This article originally appeared in the October.November 2005 issue of PINK Magazine.