Time management literature often stresses tasks related to the creation of an environment conducive to real effectiveness. They refer to issues such as the benefit of a tidy office or home to unleashing creativity and the need to protect “prime time.”
These strategies include principles such as:
- Getting Organized
- Protecting Your Prime Time
- Motivational Emphasis
- Dealing With Procrastination
Writers on time management often focus on creating an environment for effectiveness.
This literature also focuses on overcoming chronic psychological issues such as procrastination and lack of motivation.
An organized workspace is a must for using your time well each day.
When you are spending time looking for a pen, a specific file, or a misplaced document, you waste precious time. In addition to wasting time, you are more likely to increase your stress level, which can directly affect your ability to concentrate on work that needs to be done.
Clutter can cause you to spend so much time searching for items that your clear focus on your task at hand suffers.
You may ask if organizing takes too much time. Well, it doesn’t have to. Maybe, in the beginning, it will take some devoted time to organize your workspace, but once you have it organized, maintaining it becomes easier. After each workday, it may take an average of 15 minutes to reorganize your desk for the next day, but it is time well spent. Consider spending 30 minutes looking for items in comparison to 15 minutes of organization. Organizing is worth the time. Here are some simple suggestions:
Getting Organized: Document Filing and Naming
Naming and color-coding your files can significantly improve the organization of your information of both physical and digital files. Noting the draft number on a document helps identify compatible versions in the event you want to go back to review an earlier draft. Including the date that the document was created can also be beneficial when searching for past documents.
File all papers that you have designated folders for. If there is no designated folder, create one immediately so that no loose papers are hovering on your work desk.
- Important Documents
Important documents should be filed together in a locked file cabinet. These documents should not be mixed with general items, as they should always be kept in a safe place.
- Create a File for New Ideas/Projects
Keep a separate file of your currently working documents and projects that you will most likely need daily. You should separate projects into different files if you are working on more than one at the same time. As always, ensure that all files are correctly labeled.
- Get colorful.
Purchase file folders with different colors to represent other topics or subject areas that you work on. For example, green folders could represent financial matters, red folders could be for urgent issues or projects, and yellow folders could be for miscellaneous items.
- Use tickler files.
This is a system of filing for papers that you often use that have regular deadlines. For example, the information is kept in files according to due dates in a separate filing area. Each day you check what is due or needs to be done for that day. There are many different styles of tickler systems. There is a 45-file system, where the current month is organized by using 31 tickler files. It can also be organized monthly and by the year.
- Task filing.
You can use a system similar to the tickler file. Create a file folder for each day of the month. This allows you to schedule tasks for each day easily. Each morning you can pull the file for the day and review the day’s tasks. A 45-pocket filing system can work great for this system.
- Bill filing.
You can use a system similar to your work task filing system. If bills are due on the 20th, for example, you can place them in the day 15 folder to give you enough warning to pay your bills on time. This system makes it virtually impossible for you to miss important deadlines.
- Year filing.
This type of system is for items that don’t need to be looked at until the following year, such as tax information.
- Organize your Files
Take a portion of one of your workdays to organize all the files you have in your filing cabinets and drawers. Place the files in the order that is most beneficial to your work style.
Label all new files to match your current filing system, so they can be easily located when needed.
Since it was first published almost fifteen years ago, David Allen’s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business books of its era, and the ultimate book on personal organization.
“GTD” is now shorthand for an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots.
Always have at least 50 percent more storage space than you think you will need. This is a great way to de-clutter your workspace and keep other items neatly stored for future reference if needed. You may consider investing in filing cabinets and bins that are affordable and will do the job of giving you more workspace. Having storage items in an easy accessible place away from your workspace frees your space from unnecessary items.
Begin with the obvious items that you don’t need or don’t use. Throw it away or donate it to someone else or a local charity. Things that take up space just confuse you into thinking that all that items are important when in actuality, they could just be junk.
Remove the Trash
Don’t let trash build up in your workspace. Have it removed at the end of each day to maintain a healthy and clean environment?
It would be best to recycle any unwanted magazines or reading material for others to enjoy or else thrown away. The ones that you want to keep should be organized on a bookshelf or magazine rack.
Everything Needs a Home
Everything from cell phones, keys, and personal belongings should all be placed in an appropriate location and not scattered over your desk. By leaving personal and work belongings all over your workspace, it not only looks disorganized, but you will most likely waste time trying to find your things.
Items that Should Remain on Your Desk
Company phone lists, calendars, and items you are currently working on should be the only items on your work desk. At the end of each week, toss out any irrelevant items, organize your desk for the next week, and file all loose papers.
Organize your Computer Files
You should organize computer files according to the subject area that will be easily retrievable when needed. Save files under common areas related to your work for ease of locating.
There are many creative ways to create your files with the above guidelines, but remember, only use what works best for you.
Organizing your Home Work Spaces
You may also have a workspace at home for your home business and managing of your personal important papers and tasks. Little time should be spent looking for bills and items for children’s sports and schooling when your home is organized. Here are some tips for organizing your home for efficiency:
- In the kitchen, keep your table and countertops clear of papers and items that should be placed in appropriately assigned places. Having a clean and organized space will make you more efficient. Kitchen drawers should also be organized according to usage. For example, pencils and pens should not be placed with forks and spoons!
- Utilize a decorative box or small storage bin to use for your multi-purpose items that have no designated place for storage. You can also use a container to gather miscellaneous items from around the house when cleaning and then place items in their proper place.
- Clean out your belongings. Every three months, go through your belongings, keep only the things you use regularly, and donate or throw away items that you no longer use or haven’t used in months. To decide to get rid of items, ask yourself when was the last time you used it and if you truly will use it in the future. Once you clean out these items, you can organize whatever is left.
- Getting organized starts by avoid buying bulky items. Your home should have enough space for easy use and movement and not be overcrowded with large appliances or office equipment.
- Make the temperature just right. Temperature is a factor that could either irritate or motivate a person to work. The temperature should be just right, and the senses should be tempered with pleasant stimuli during work. Not having to stop work to pull on a sweater or to cool off with trips to the water cooler allows you to focus on your tasks.
The best way to determine how well you are organized is by how good you feel. There is calmness and lack of anxiety when the environment you work and live in is clean, comfortable, and well-organized – a place free from things piling up and overwhelming you.
For additional resources on getting organized and organizing your home, you may read Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life by Laura Leist. This is a user-friendly system in assisting you in organizing every area of your home, from the kitchen to the children’s rooms. For additional tips on managing your space at work, read The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern. This book discusses various ways of avoiding paper backlogs, managing your desk, and keeping a clutter-free desk.