Recently, I moved house, which is a perfect opportunity to de-clutter. The piles of scrap paper in the office went, clothes I hadn’t worn for a couple of years, DVD’s that hadn’t been watched in ages, odd glass jars from the kitchen cupboard that might come in handy. The shed even got a clean out – everything has all gone either to the tip or the op shop.
You would have thought that with the amount of stuff we tossed before we arrived at the new house (just next door!) that my office would now be clutter free – unfortunately not. Due to meetings at this time, my ever-patient admin assistant got the job of moving a lot of the office contents. I arrived to find my office floor covered in boxes and bags of paperwork and general office stationery. For the next couple of days, I attempted to complete tasks while trying to locate my stapler or a particular USB stick. It was impossible and distracting. In the end, I put aside a couple of hours and went through each and every bag and box, throwing out or archiving piles of paperwork, putting office stationery away where I’d be able to find it when I wanted it and then vacuuming the floor for good measure. I felt so much better afterwards and was able to concentrate on actual work tasks.
I’ve found that clutter in my office makes me less effective and it’s not just me, scientists have found that clutter can increase the level of stress hormones in your body. So how is your office looking?
The Christmas break is often a time when there is not so much going on in the way of activities at work. If you find yourself with a little more time on your hands because many of your clients have gone away or you aren’t running as many activities, take the opportunity to clean up the office and get yourself prepared for the next twelve months.
If you walk into the office and don’t know where to start (hey, I’ve been to some of your workplaces I know what you’re facing!) it’s ok to start small – after all, most of this arrived bit by bit. Pick one box or pile of papers to work through. Decide whether you need to file, archive, action or toss. Once you have cleared out the room, move on to your computer and do the same with your inbox, this is a great activity for those hot afternoons when other staff have knocked off for the day.
Once you have a clear desk and office consider ways to keep it that way.
- Don’t print out anything unless you really need to;
- Set aside an afternoon each week when you have a mini spring clean;
- If brochures and advertising material comes in and it is not immediately relevant, file it in the bin – you can always get this sort of information again if you need it;
- If important information such as client information comes in, place it on the client’s file that day;
- If you have completed a form or document such as an incident form, file it in the correct folder and add any notes to the register folder immediately;
- Make it a habit to clear your desk at the end of every day.
Now I’ve written all that I had better go and look at my own desk!