How to Organize Your Workspace and Be More Productive

January can be a tough month for everyone as we return to work from the holidays. Our email inboxes are often stuffed to the brim and it can take a few days to get back up to full productivity. However, taking the time to organize your workspace early on has major benefits. Organized workspaces have been shown to increase productivity, reduce stress, and help people stick to their deadlines. Here are a few ideas for how you can get organized and set yourself up to enjoy those same benefits:

Purge your office
Start strong by organizing and decluttering your overall office space. A relatively neat and orderly workspace clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time. Don’t afraid to be tough with yourself. What haven’t you used in a while? Declutter, empty, shred. Get rid of everything that you don’t need or want.

Rearrange your office
Sit at your desk and work. Is everything you need within easy reach? Adjust your office design as necessary by moving the items or equipment you use most often closer. For example, if you regularly use your stapler, you shouldn’t have to get up and leave your desk to do so. Take note of what you don’t use, too. If you don’t use an item often, it can be stored further away to make space for the things you need within easy reach.

Organize your desk
Take an objective look at your desk or even ask a coworker their opinion about its overall tidiness. In addition to being visually unpleasing, having a disorganized desk can make it harder for you to focus and process information according to research published in the Journal of NeuroscienceClutter competes for your attention, and it creates stress, anxiety, and guilt. In other words, it’s got to go.

Develop a personal filing system
Have you ever kept a client or your boss waiting on the phone while you’ve searched the piles of papers on your desk for an important document? Even in the age of email and the internet, we still handle many paper documents and files. There’s a flurry of data pouring in from all directions that we need to process and, usually, store to retrieve later. We want to be able to lay our hands on the information we need, right when we need it.

Organize digitally
One of the simplest and most overlooked aspects of being organized is getting your computer files in order. Every time you have to dig around for a document you can’t find or have to go through a series of unnecessary clicks to access a folder, you’re just not as productive as you could be. You’re wasting precious time that you could put towards something that helps you move forward with your goals. If you don’t already use folders to organize your work, start by sorting all your individual files into folders with descriptive names. Then put a link to the folders you use most often directly onto your desktop so you can open them with a single click.