When you start work in the morning does your desk give you a clean fresh start, free from clutter, a workspace where you can be highly creative and productive, or does it bog you down and act as friction to getting things done?
If you’re like most of us, your desk is probably not optimized for productivity and performance.
Let’s start with the benefits.
1. When you have your desk set up well you minimize distractions and resistance to actually doing your work. You want your space to give you energy, not drain it.
2. You will work better when you desk is set up for workflow. Your desk surface is a place to do work, not store it. You’ll have the space to spread out current work without overlap with clutter.When the right tools are organized and at your fingertips your productivity increases.One way to re-think your desk, is to use the PLACE system.P – purge unnecessary items from the desk surface (this means material you are not working on, archives, junk mail..)L – like items with like – group all your office supplies together, reference books etc.A – access – frequently used items and tools need to be at your fingertips, others storedC – contain loose items using a desk organizer or storage systemE – evaluate how well your system is working, make changes and get it rightAfter you have your supplies and tools organized – think about workflow. Since we operate processes from left to right, you might want to implement this approach to your desk. Productivity experts recommend keeping your inbox, phone, and diary or agenda (if you use one), on your left side, with work being processed in the middle and work that is complete or needs to be stored on the right. When you stop for the day, always make sure the middle and right side are clear.It’s easier organizing the permanent stuff: equipment, supplies, decoration, and reference. Transient stuff, input to be processed, action reminders, and project support materials is the challenge, because to improve your productivity you may have to change the way you work.Input to be processed – goes in your in-box (an old fashioned tray or basket). This unsorted, un-prioritized material, mail, requests, lists, folders – things others leave on your desk..Action reminders – notes about to-do’s go in your task management software or, if you are paper-based, your planner. Support material – goes in files or, if it is too big to fit in a file, on a project shelf or project area away from your desktop in a binder.Go through all the papers, books, folders on your desk and file everything away according to these groups. Now you should have just an inbox and agenda/notebook on your left hand side.Don’t manage your work from stacks of folders, manage your work from lists. Put what you need to accomplish on your action list and put the supporting materials in the pending files or a project shelf. When you are actually working on something, only then is it time to bring in the files and support materials. Be carefully about working on multiple tasks that require lots of support materials. If you can break down the task and only keep the materials for the task at hand on your desk surface you’ll be much more focused and energized.If you keep the idea below as a guiding principle, you just may find your desk surface not only more appealing, but you may get more work done and feel good about starting fresh tomorrow. The desktop is for the work you are doing, not for storing the work that you have to do.