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How to Organize Your Office Well

  • Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2011 10 Oct
  • COMMENTS
How to Organize Your Office Well

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Sandra Felton and Marsha Simsis book, Smart Office Organizing: Simple Strategies for Bringing Order to Your Workplace, (Revell, 2011).

The work you do in your office is an important part of fulfilling God’s purposes for your life. But if your office is messy, your work will likely be messy, too, since your environment affects your creativity and productivity.

So organize your office well to optimize the work you do for God. Here’s how:

Identify what factors are contributing to your disorganization. Become aware of what has been holding you back from organizing your office so far. Are you indecisive, easily distracted, or struggling to manage your time well? Are you dealing with stress, fatigue, or a failure to plan ahead? Have you become so familiar with the clutter around you that you don’t notice how it interrupts your work? Is your office such a mess that you become overwhelmed when thinking about organizing it, and decide to procrastinate?

Motivate yourself to get started. Dream about how your office would be if it was organized exactly the way you’d like it be. Pray for a vision of your best office, and picture all the details in your mind – how your office should be configured; what furniture, equipment, and supplies it will contain; and how you plan to use every part of the available space. Write or draw a description of what your office can be like once you’ve organized it well. Post the record of your goal where you’ll see it regularly. Then break the entire organizational job down into small steps that are easy for you to manage. Commit to yourself and at least one other person to get started.

Get rid of what’s taking up space without serving a vital purpose. Take items out of your office if you don’t truly need them there to do your work well.

Clear the surfaces of your desk and floor. Put items that are piled on our desk and floor into some large storage boxes, and clearly label the boxes according to what’s inside them.

Use vertical surfaces as well as horizontal ones. Your office may have lots of space that you haven’t considered using before: vertical surfaces such as walls, the back of your office door, and the sides of cabinets. Use them for whatever items you can, from phones and light fixtures to clocks and calendars.

Designate a specific spot of unfinished projects. Where do you put materials for projects in progress when you’re not working on them? Choose a particular place in your office, so you won’t have to search for the materials you need each time you start working again.

Handle paper wisely. Develop a system to handle the many pieces of paper that enter your office. Organize your papers into five different categories: “to do” (something requiring action), “to file” (something that needs to be stored for future reference), “for others” (something that you need to give to another person), “pending” (something that is currently in progress), and “financial” (bills and other papers that relate to money, such as tax documents). Each time you touch a piece of paper, move it forward to the next step in your system so you won’t waste time handling it more often than necessary. Label your filing containers by category, and go through each of your categories every day. Take care of the most urgent and the most important items first, and then work your way through the others. When deciding whether or not to keep a piece of paper, ask yourself: “Do I really need it?”, “Do I really want it?”, “Is it a duplicate?”, “ Is it still relevant?”, and “Will I use it again?”.

Delegate some tasks to others. If you need help organizing your office, hire a friend, family member, or even a professional organizer to help you get your office set up the way it should be.

Adjust lighting. Make your office bright enough to see your work well, but keep glare off of your computer screen.

Adjust air temperature. Since you can’t work well when you’re either too hot or too cold, set the temperature in your office to a comfortable level and maintain that temperature consistently.

Adjust sounds. Do whatever you can to reduce the amount of noise that comes into your office, since noise interferes with your ability to concentrate. If you work best in silence, keep your office as quiet as possible. If a particular style of music (such as jazz or classical) helps you focus, play it in the background while you’re working.

Organize your space to help you optimize your time. Make it as easy as possible to keep track of appointments so you don’t mess up your work schedule, and to find items so you don’t waste time looking for them.

Update your office’s technology. Buy a computer, printer, phone system, and other technology that will best help you do your work.

Handle email wisely. Don’t let your email pile up. Check it regularly and either: delete, respond right away, forward, or save for future reference in a labeled computer folder.

Maintain order. After you’ve gotten your office fully organized, keep it that way so you can continue to enjoy the benefits of an organized workspace. Create a maintenance system to help you stay organized while you work each day, preventing new clutter from accumulating in your office.

Adapted from Smart Office Organizing: Simple Strategies for Bringing Order to Your Workplace, copyright 2011 by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims. Published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.

Sandra Felton,The Organizer Lady, is a pioneer in the field of organizing. She is the founder and president of Messies Anonymous and the author of many books including Organizing Magic. Sandra lives in Florida. Visit her website at: http://www.messies.com/.

Marsha Simsis a national speaker who has taught seminars on time management and organization, managing the front desk, and projects and priorities. She has been a professional organizer for 15 years as the founder and president of her Miami-based company, Sort-It-Out, Inc. Visit her website at: http://www.sortitout.net/.

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.comto send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.