Among common new year's resolutions, "maintain an organized workspace" might not get as much recognition as "finally get in shape" or " get more sleep ." But when it comes to achieving this resolution, it joins other new years goals with a dismal 80-plus percent failure rate .

For those willing to beat the odds, a more organized workspace can reap several benefits in the form of greater calm and increased productivity . Ready to join the mere 20 percent of people who actually achieve their resolution? Then follow these five steps in order to master office organization once and for all.

Step 1: Clean house

Pretty much every pro out there recommends that any organizational game plan should start with a purge. After all, there's no sense in spending time organizing items that you don't actually need.

Early in the new year, set aside some time to go through every item in your office. (Schedule this time on your calendar so you're more likely to stick to it.) Categorize everything into groups meant for Recycling, Donating, or Keeping, or whatever categories seem most relevant to you. Be honest with yourself during this process; if you haven't used an item in the past six months, that's probably a good sign that it doesn't need to be in your office.

Once you've categorized all of your office supplies, take out the recycling and donations. Whatever's left over is what you actually need to spend time organizing. Hopefully, your office is already feeling less cluttered.

Step two: Arrange your workspace for maximum efficiency

Now that you've narrowed down your workspace to only the most essential items, it's time to arrange those items in a way that supports your workflow. If you're having to stand up every time you need a pen or a reference sheet that you use frequently, this may be hindering your productivity.

Spend a week or so working normally and noting any times that you have to disrupt your work in order to access office supplies such as pens, paperwork, the trash can, and so on. Then, make any necessary rearrangements to streamline efficiency.

Step three: Tackle papers

Papers (whether in the form of mail, invoices, receipts, or anything else) are notorious for cluttering up an office. If you want to sustain an organized workspace in the new year, then you'll have to develop an effective filing system . To that end:

  • Start by digitizing any paperwork for which you don't need to store hard copies. This will significantly free up space.
  • Once you've sized up any remaining paperwork, decide whether you'd like to organize these papers alphabetically, numerically, or by subject. This is a matter of personal preference; think about how you're naturally inclined to seek out papers and then organize accordingly.
  • Invest in filing cabinets, hanging folders, or another organizational system of your choice. Make sure to leave some room for additional paperwork to accumulate so you don't find yourself outgrowing your storage system in a few weeks or months.
  • Commit to a policy of carefully labeling papers prior to filing them so it's always easy to find what you need.
  • Develop a system for processing incoming paperwork. Many people swear by a tray (or several) on their desk, but think about what will work best with your own workflow. If you're not sure where to start, consider having one tray for new/unreviewed papers and one for papers that have been reviewed and need to be processed.

Step four: Rethink your desktop

Even if you lapse on organizing every other part of your office, it's important to keep your desktop organized. After all, this is where you'll spend the bulk of your time while in your office.

To keep things neat, commit to storing only the bare minimum of supplies on your desk. It's helpful here to refer back to the audit you took in step two. For example, if you use pens every day, then by all means keep some pens in a desk drawer or desktop holder. But don't store anything on top of your desk unless you use it on a daily basis (or close to it).

Step five: Make it a habit

Once you've tackled these steps, then comes the most important part. If you want to maintain the organization you've developed, it's essential to build organizational maintenance into your workday.

Add a 10- or 15-minute block to your calendar at the end of every single day, and commit to using this time for general tidying, filing paperwork, and organizational maintenance. While it may be tempting to work through those blocks, turning organization into a habit is the best way to master your workspace in 2019.

Published on: Dec 20, 2018
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