Everyone deserves a workspace that promotes calm and allows concentration. This principle applies to both children and adults.
In today’s “work from home” environment, many adults are wondering how to create a workspace at home. Others go to an office where their office is a nightmare.
Last week we used the Tickler file to clean the surface of this desktop. Today, let’s tackle the inside of your office. No one other than you can see what’s hidden in those drawers. But you can, and you deserve better!
What’s in these desk drawers?
Open your lap drawer. Be honest, how many pencils do you find with broken tips, pens whose ink dried years ago, and half-used packets of sweetener and ketchup? Are you one of those people who has two staplers in another drawer – the one that works and the one that is either stuck or running out of staples?
If we opened yet another drawer, would we find a partially used ream of paper with a chipped corner all over the stack, unopened mail from last month, and a few used styrofoam coffee mugs that never made it into the trash?
What about the “tech” drawer? Here is the range of CD-ROMs (unlabelled), vintage floppy disks (both 3.5in and some 5.25in, also unlabeled) and flash drives that contain whatever.
Clean it up
The first step is to totally empty those drawers, and I mean totally. Trying to organize one drawer at a time usually results in simply moving garbage from one location to another.
Clear the whole office. Don’t be surprised if the contents cover the ground. To fix the mess, you must first make the mess.
While the drawers are empty, clean them. A damp cloth takes care of the dust and mess of that leaky soy sauce packet.
While you’re at it, scrape off any pieces of duct tape that contained notes to remind yourself of something you probably never saw at the right time anyway. The nail polish remover does a fantastic job of removing sticky residue.
Finally, determine why a drawer is not running freely and resolve the issue. Since your office is where you spend a significant portion of your workday, a small obstacle that lasts daily is like the pebble in your shoe on an five-mile hike.
Make a plan
Before reloading the desktop, decide what makes room for it and what doesn’t. The office is not a storage cupboard.
It is a place that contains what you need every day. Keep a handful of paper clips and rubber bands, not several boxes. Keep a few sharp pencils and pens, each one that comes your way. Keep a notepad, not a dozen.
Find a place to store extra office supplies. The box of staples, Post-it packets, reams of paper, scotch rolls, boxes of file folders, rubber bands and paper clips will all find their place there rather than in your desk. When you need more paper clips, you’ll know where to get them.
When you return from a conference with the mandatory conference bag containing Post-it pads, pencils and pens printed with exhibitors’ names, do not toss it in your office. Put new supplies in the supplies area, not in the office.
If this article motivates you to do something with your office, cut this article and get to work. Next week we’ll see how to put it all back together.
Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders. “Global Gurus Top 30” named him # 1 in the Time Management category for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Dr. Buck speaks all over the United States and abroad on organization and time management. You can reach him through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.