For many personality types, organization is key to productivity. Most people have trouble focusing in a cluttered environment, and there is a certain sense of dread that goes along with clutter in the workspace. What’s hidden in those stacks of paper, or in your disorganized email inbox, that you’ve forgotten to deal with? Will it come back to haunt you later?
It’s worthwhile to keep your workspace organized for sanity and peace of mind alone, but if those reasons aren’t compelling enough, how about having your productivity skyrocket? There are many methods and practices for office organization, and you can easily do some online research to find out which techniques will work best for your situation. In this blog post, we’ll focus on tips that will not only improve your office workflow and productivity, but also have the added benefit of being good for the environment.
1. Digitize your files- One exciting part about living in the age of technological advancement is that it is now so easy to store data without wasting resources! If you’re still unnecessarily storing hard copies of all your paperwork, stop now! Sure, there are some things that need to be kept on physical paper. But for the most part, the planet and your sanity will benefit from reducing the amount of paper files you have to store. Take a weekend to convert your old files to digital, or do it gradually one evening a week. Make sure to back up your files in more than one place- the golden rule is to have three backups: one on your computer, one on an external hard drive or jump drive, and one on the cloud. That way you’re virtually guaranteed to never lose your important files. Once you’ve digitized all your old files, make sure you’ve got a system in place to prevent becoming bogged down with paper copies in the future. For instance: switch to paperless billing with your utility, banking and credit card companies, change to digital magazine and catalog subscriptions, and start doing your invoicing and other work communications through email where possible.
2. Integrate plants into your workspace – Far from just being a nice decorative touch, plants can help improve air quality, filter noise, decrease room temperature and lower humidity in your office space. Daily exposure to plants has even been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase positive feelings. And the happier you are when you’re in your workspace, the more productive you’ll tend to be. So incorporate some leafy green friends into your office!
3. Reuse Printer and Copier Mistakes– After you’ve digitized your files and implemented your almost-paperless office workflow, you shouldn’t have too much problem with paper lying around. But there are always printer mistakes, etc. If these have identifying or financial information on them, they should of course be shredded and recycled. But if they’re free of that sort of data, and only printed on one side, you can use a paper cutter to cut them up into small squares and store them in a box to be used as scratch paper. This will take up relatively little storage space, and you may never have to buy notepads again!
4. Recycle Your Printer Cartridges- Printer cartridges can be recycled, and many companies offer discount programs on new cartridges if you send your empty cartridges to be refilled when you are finished with them. This may not exactly increase your productivity, but it will be good for the environment and it will save you money at the same time!
5. Create a Weekly Organization System Using Clipboards- Create an organization system for tasks or projects that need your attention this week. A great way to do this is to use clipboards that hang from hooks on the wall just in front of or beside your desk. This way you’re not taking up valuable desk space, but the documents are right there where you can see them. Also, you can just take the clipboard off the wall and bring it with you to a meeting or to work on at home. Order the items by level of importance, with the most urgent ones on the top so you can see them. You might have one clipboard labeled “Act” for tasks you need to work on right away, one labeled “Read” for documents, articles or communications that need to be read or evaluated, one labeled “Delegate” for things you can pass off, and one labeled “Share” for items that need to be discussed at a meeting. Or you can create your own labels that would work best for your situation. As you finish a task or project, remove it from its clipboard and recycle or file as appropriate. At the end of the week, make sure that only tasks that need more attention next week are still on the clipboards.
6. Daily Desk Cleaning in 30 Seconds- Once you’ve implemented your almost-paperless workflow and your clipboard task management system, you should have a more-or-less clutter-free desk space. Of course, clutter tends to build up over the day- but with your new systems, it shouldn’t build up in one day to the point where you’re overwhelmed by it. So make it a habit to take 30 seconds before you leave your office in the evening to arrange your papers and clean your work surfaces. In your desk, keep a dust cloth and a spray bottle of vinegar and water or just water with a few drops of lavender essential oil mixed in. When you’ve moved your papers and work materials to their homes for the evening, wipe down your desk and keyboard. (Spray the solution directly on the cloth to avoid splattering your computer screen.) This way, when you arrive to your office in the morning, you will have a nice, clean, distraction free work area to sit down to. This should definitely increase your productivity!
If your workspace is suffering from clutter and you’re struggling with low productivity, give one or more of these green office organization tips a try. We hope they help you bring new life and purpose to your workspace!