Nobody likes an untidy home. But shouldn’t your home away from home be the same? If you’re struggling to get work done and often find yourself distracted and unproductive, it might be time to take a look at your workstation. How much do you have on your desk? How much of it do you use on a regular basis? Can you even see the surface?
Say goodbye to the untidy desk of the past. Our incredibly easy-to-follow desk organisation tips will have you clutter-free in no time at all.
1. Start with a declutter
Before you can move forward into an organised future, you first need to look at where you are now and make some changes. There’s little point in organising items on your desk that you just aren’t going to use, so now’s the time to be a bit brutal. While you may think you’re getting rid of a lot of useful items, the point is to only have what you absolutely need and replace when it can no longer be used.
Start by looking at any duplicates in your drawers. This includes notepads, pens, pencils, gel pens, sticky notes… Keep two notepads – one for jotting and scribbles and one for meetings – and two or three pens. Donate the rest to your colleagues, or drop them in your office stationery cupboard.
2. Go paperless
A huge amount of clutter on our desk is due to paper. Printed out emails, presentations, folders, sticky notes, to-do lists… it’s endless! Fortunately there is an easy fix, go paperless!
Use spreadsheets to stay organised with your tasks and use note taking apps like Evernote or Google Keep. Use Dropbox to share folders with colleagues instead of printing things out, which helps cut back on paper waste too.
3. Wire control
The typical workstation is far from technology-free. When you take into account a laptop, a monitor, a mouse, a keyboard, chargers and phones, the number of wires facing us can quickly get out of control. Concealing messy wires is an easy step to take to reduce clutter and your stress levels. If your desk doesn’t have wire slots or holes, it’s a quick and easy DIY desk organisation project using binder clips to hold them all together and out of sight.
4. Label cords
We’ve all been there. You’re up to your ears in an important project and have been working away for hours, when all of a sudden, your laptop dies before your eyes, the dreaded empty battery blinking back at you. No worries, just plug it back in. But you crawl under your desk to be faced with a jungle-like tangle of wires and cords.
Take some time to detangle the wires one by one, wrap colourful pieces of tape around them and label which powers which device. Not only does it distinguish your wires from your neighbour’s, in the event of a battery emergency, you can get back up and running in no time.
5. Limit sticky notes
If you’re a lover of sticky notes, then you probably feel organised, and that’s true to an extent. They’re easy to grab and jot your thoughts down on, but before you know it you have 20 of them stuck to your computer screen when you could have just made one coherent to-do list.
Find yourself going overboard? Try going cold turkey and you’ll find the clutter disappear instantly, and your urge to use them will slowly diminish too. When you do use them, use them sparingly and only for urgent reminders, and discard them when you’re finished.
6. Keep your inbox under control
Staying organised isn’t just about keeping your desk free of clutter. Even if you leave things spic and span, a chaotic inbox can be just as overwhelming as a desk piled high with papers.
While we wouldn’t recommend going the whole hog with a complex labelling system, which can be tricky to implement and follow in the long term as well as creating more work, there are little things you can do to make a big difference.
If you use Gmail, which most offices do nowadays, simply switch your settings to Priority mode – which will cause unread emails to jump to the top of your inbox, and leave them unread until they have been dealt with. Once they have been dealt with, archive them just in case. Be vigilant with your newsletters and subscriptions and delete them if you find you aren’t reading or using them.
If you find that too many internal conversations are happening over email and it’s clogging up your inbox, suggest to your office that you switch to Slack instead.
7. Prioritise your work
Now that your desk is sorted, it’s time to look at the way you work with our final organisation tip. The only things out in front of you should be your necessary work supplies like a laptop, notepad and pen, along with any relevant and active projects you are working on. Keep things simple and stress-free.
If you find that work keeps piling up, it can easily become overwhelming which only leads to procrastination. Stay on top of things as much as you can by using the following system of prioritisation:
- Important and urgent
- Urgent but not important
- Important but not urgent
- Not urgent and not important
8. Re-organise regularly
Staying organised isn’t just a one-off task, but something that requires constant work. Once you’ve got yourself to a place where you feel comfortable with your desk and organisation, schedule in a weekly check-in where you take a scan of your desk to make sure everything that out in front of you is useful and deserves to be there.
A huge number of us now have the ability to work remotely. Whether you’re an employee or work for yourself, being able to set up shop anywhere can be incredibly freeing and helpful. Imagine being able to get all your work done without worrying about a commute and getting laundry and chores done in between. Sounds great, right?
Sometimes the reality doesn’t quite live up to our expectations. Working remotely may sound like a dream but being closer to home can not only be distracting, but also quite isolating. Never fear, here eight super easy to follow tips on how you can work remotely and still be productive.
1. Start the day right
When you work in an office, you don’t just leap into work straight out of bed. Well, we hope you don’t. And it shouldn’t be the same when you work remotely. You need time to wake up and prepare yourself for the day ahead. So make sure you start your day the right way.
What would you like to do in the morning to set you up for a great day? What about yoga, going to the gym, going for a run, meditating, journalling, listening to a podcast or reading a book? Take your pick, just make sure you have some ‘you’ time before the work begins. And no, emails don’t count.
2. Dress like you’re working
We’re not talking full on suit and briefcase, but working in your pyjamas can actually have a detrimental effect on your productivity. Think about it; you’re still in the clothes you slept in. And as comfy as they may be, you’re also probably still in the same ‘chill out’ mindset.
A quick freshen up and a change of clothes can be the perfect way to signal to yourself that the working day has started. Get ready for the day as you normally would; get a shower, brush your teeth and then put on some new clothes, even if it’s just a clean pair of loungewear.
3. Have a place dedicated for work
Not everyone has the space or resources to have an “office” in their home, but at the very least you need a designated workstation that is for working and only working. Sitting in bed or in front of the TV may sound great, but you’re probably not going to get much work done. Heading to the same spot every day, just like you would do in an office, helps to train your brain into understanding that this is where you need to be focused and concentrate.
4. Plan your day first thing
Some people love lists, while others hate them. But whichever side you sit on, we’d recommend starting each working day with a good old to-do list. This shouldn’t be everything that you have to get done, otherwise you’ll never reach the end of it. Instead set yourself a finite number of tasks that you want to accomplish that day, then prioritise them, give them a designated time slot and work from there.
5. Ignore personal tasks
While you don’t have to work 9 to 5 at home, it’s important to set time boundaries when you will only be doing work. Otherwise you’ll find yourself doing something else; procrastinating. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll catch up on Netflix, it could mean you’ll hoover, do the dishes or tackle the laundry. But if you know that between the hours of 9 and 12, you’ll be working on X task, then 12 to 1 you’ll have lunch and a quick tidy, then 1 to 4 you’ll work, your day will have structure and it’ll help you focus.
6. Avoid social media
Procrastinating can come in all forms, and one of the biggest is social media. No matter what your vice is whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or even Wikipedia, the Internet is a rabbit hole that is easy to get lost in. Even the most will-powered among us can have trouble staying focused. Thankfully, there is help at hand. Work Mode is a Chrome extension that blocks social media and can be programmed to activate during your work hours, helping you stay laser-focused.
7. Be accountable
There’s a reason why many of us improve more in the gym when we have a personal trainer; it’s because we’re accountable to them for our actions and results. So before your other half or your flatmate leaves for work themselves, let them know what you’re planning to get done today. You don’t have to give them a minute-by-minute rundown of your day, but being able to tell them what you’ve ticked off will not only help you have the mental focus to do it, but it’ll also give you a great sense of accomplishment when you tell them in the evening.
8. Know when the day is done
Whether you work at home permanently or it’s once a week, just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you have to be working 24/7. Not only is it unhealthy, but it’s also unfair to your other commitments and the other people in your life. Although it may sound counter-productive, setting limits and boundaries on your working time and sticking to it, can help you be more focused and work harder. So at the end of the day, log off, shut down and walk away.