1. Organize Your Desk for Success


“Your desk can be a stimulation for creativity & display your commitment to success?”

A good set-up office desk – with all the necessary tools – will save you time and the expense of redundancy. This is the first key to an effective and successful business operation. This does not mean you have to have all the newest technology, just the technologies that you will allow to become part of your daily habits. As you know changing habits is one of the toughest things we face each day.

While these steps are critical for any office where clients or customers may be visiting but they will also be very helpful for solopreneurs or work from home businesses. It’s just common sense.

Create an Office for Profitability

Most people understand the relationship between time management and profitability. Effective time management increases productivity; more work can be completed in less time, with less distraction and waste however many lose site of the link with work environment.

Office organization affects creativity, profitability, and productivity. A tidy and well-structured office is not only a more pleasant place to work, but it also reduces the time anyone might spend looking for items and digging through loose paperwork.

I can’t tell you how much time I wasted looking for my glasses on my desk before I adopted this process.

A well-organized office can also encourage better internal communication. There are clear areas of the business that are designated for sales, customer service, R&D, and project planning. This fosters team building and a collaborative work ethic.

Getting Started: Work Space Audit

The best place to start is by taking an honest inventory of the current state of your office or working environment. With that information, you can determine what areas need to be improved, streamlined, or de-cluttered. Spend some time taking a look around your office and note the following:

  • Is there a central location where internal company information is displayed?
  • What is the distance between your workspace and the printer or photocopier?
  • How much loose paper is found around the business?
  • What is hung up on the walls? Informative or Distraction?
  • Do your staff members have organization systems for their own work areas? Do you provide an example?
  • What can be found on your desk?
  • How the computers are setup and connected?
  • How many files are used on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Where are old or outdated files kept?

Organize Your Desk First

Presumably, your desk or workstation is where you spend the most time in your office. It is where you are expected to be the most productive. To get all your important tasks completed.

Simply put, you will be more productive and effective if your workspace is clean and organized. Spend some time each day tidying and organizing your workspace – ideally when you are planning your work or your schedule for the following day. It also protects your data from prying eyes.

Here are some other ways you can keep your immediate workspace in the most productive form possible:

Phone.

Put your phone on the left side of the desk if you are right handed and on the right side of the desk if you are left handed. This is contrary to many recommendations today but I find it allows me to keep my dominant hand free for note taking or data entry on the keyboard.

Keep a notebook by the phone to record messages and conversation notes. Also record phone messages here, and delete them from your phone system. This seems counter to common sense but it does work.

Personal Items.

Keep personal items out of your immediate line of sight. Pictures can be distracting, and points for daydreaming but they are very important for your ability to calm down during high stress periods so I recommend you find a balance that works for you.

Organizer.

Keep your Day-Timer, tablet or Smartphone easily accessible on your desk. Use one of these as your main system for appointments, notes, tasks, follow-up, and brainstorming. Keep the rest of your desk clear. I suggest you utilize a well-established software package or online service to record customers, calls, orders etc.? My preference is electronic.

Files.

Only keep the files you need on your desk or within arm’s reach. Store any files you don’t use daily or weekly in a filing cabinet further away. Purge files based on a documented aging system.

Computer files need the same kind of diligent care and protection as do paper files. Here is where I recommend the use of cloud storage for all your valuable collateral, paperwork or spreadsheets. I personally use Microsoft’s OneDrive but there are many other options worth considering.

You can also backup your files to a separate external hard drive that you connect to your primary computer however if you have more than one computer or a network this needs to be done with local storage devices that is attached to your network. I find that backups are usually ignored because of time constraints so their value is limited. You can find software that does automated backups but it still requires discipline to ensure they are completed correctly. Either way, you need to be sure that these files are removed from the premises after hours so they are protected in case of fire or another calamity.

Manual Inbox and action items.

Sort items in your inbox into an easily accessible file sorter or a stack of paper trays. Separate paper into the following categories: to-do, to-review, waiting response, on-hold, to file. Handle requests one time, make decisions the first time you handle request or document. I personally advocate the use of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) Process. Check it out.

Computers and equipment.

It’s usually recommended that your monitor is situated at eye level and about an arm’s length away to reduce eye strain. Many companies are eliminating desktop computers in favor of laptops or combo computers so If you are using a laptop I do recommend and optional monitor and keyboard when at your desk.

There are quite a number of studies on ergonomic seating and workspace management which I am in total agreement with but in the end it is really about how you can be relaxed, comfortable and rested as you work so experiment.

Take breaks when working at your desk, especially when using a computer. I suggest a 5-minute break every 2 hours as minimum, once an hour is even better. Get up, and stretch.

Avoid Piles.

We all have a tendency to build piles because of the amount of paper we get, generate or accumulate each day. While you may have a good idea of what's in each pile, the frustration of trying to find a specific item could be detrimental to your mental health and those around you at the time.

Home Office Checklist 2017.pdf