In previous columns, I've explained how geniuses like Einstein organized their desks and what your desk will look like 100 years from now. However, I haven't yet provided much advice on how to make your work area work better for you.
Professional organizers Mary Astadourian and Jennifer Dynoff of Details Organizing receive up to $100,000 to organize the homes of top celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Here's their advice for us mere mortals:
1. Clear everything out first.
Before reorganizing your work area, remove everything. That means everything! Start with a blank canvas so that you get a sense of the space you've got to work with.
2. Start with your fingertips.
Begin with items you constantly need. For some people, this might be pens, a small notepad, post-its, and a calculator. For other, a computer and printer.
3. Think transparent.
Use clear containers for small items that you use frequently. That way you can always see what you have and will know when you need to replenish your stock.
4. File away the old stuff.
Only keep current projects or files on your desk. If you finish something get it off your desk and file it away, or at least throw it into a box marked "To File."
5. Weed your office weekly.
Make a commitment to de-clutter your office and file the "To File" stuff on a weekly basis. Schedule it in your calendar program.
6. Use multiple, uniform file boxes.
Having multiple boxes organized by project makes it easier to find things and get things done. Identically-shaped boxes makes your office look more organized.
7. Go higher to get more space.
If you don't have a lot of surface space to work with create shelves above your work area. Height is an under-utilized asset. (Think Manhattan rather than Los Angeles.)
8. Have an obvious inbox.
Have a large, labeled inbox placed prominently near your work area. Don't let people leave anything for you anywhere else on your desk.
9. Go through your inbox every day.
Dedicating a few moments to check through your inbox periodically will prevent you from being overwhelmed later.
10. Create a "hot file" folder.
Have a bright-colored (so it calls your attention!) folder to store things you need to take care of immediately.
11. Prioritize at the day's end.
Before you leave for the night, put items that need to be addressed tomorrow into the "hot file." That way you have a game plan for the day when you come in next morning.
12. Use an accordion file for receipts.
An accordion file is perfect for organizing small recipes that often get lost in the shuffle. File receipts by month (or by project) and keep them off your desk.
13. Keep the personal touch for last.
Complete your reorganization with something that makes you feel at home: a family photo, fresh flowers, a unique sculpture or piece of art.