How to Organize Your Workspace for Maximum Productivity

Gone are the days of disorganized cubicles adrift in a storm of paper, post-its, and mysteriously-missing staplers as we hopelessly wonder how to organize such a hot mess of hardware.

This is the 21st century! Luckily, we all now enjoy a totally paperless work environment, complete with ergonomic workspaces that support our spines and our productivity. Our desk tops and our desktops are clutter-free, everyone finishes projects ahead of schedule, and we all head to happy hour, arms linked in energetic merriment as we muse upon the wonder of another day’s work, fulfilled.

Wait a second…

Not quite there yet? Don’t worry, neither are we. But there are a few simple, cost-effective life hacks that will show you how to organize your workspace for maximum productivity, efficiency, and – dare we say it – enjoyment at work.

1. Ditch the Desk

Do you love your desk? Does it make you excited? Is it your ideal color, texture, and finish? Does it have enough drawers and shelving for everything you need? When considering how to organize your workspace, first make sure that the space you’re working with is ideal.

If you work in an office and the desk you’ve inherited isn’t cutting it, ask if there is anything better lying around. Better yet, head to Ikea and get yourself a new one. The company could reimburse you, or you can write the purchase off and take it with you when (if) you leave in the future.

Finally, is a desk really right for you? If you find yourself working from the couch, bed, or floor whenever you work from home, maybe you’re most productive when you’re comfortable. Not everyone needs the structure of a desk. Ask yourself what kind of workspace makes you feel the most focused, forgetting for a moment what the “right answer” is supposed to be.

2. Learn to Let Go (aka The Year Test)

Wondering how to organize your workspace when you’re hoarding mountains of stuff you “might need” someday? Set aside a few hours (or as long as you need) to go through absolutely everything in and around your workspace, and do The Year Test.

If you haven’t used it or looked at it in over a year, trash it. If it’s an important financial document or contract, scan it to your Shoeboxed account before chucking. While there may be a few things that need to be saved as hard copies, most documents – including tax documents – are perfectly acceptable in digital format.

If it’s something of sentimental value, hang on to it forever by taking a picture of it. This way, you’ll be able to keep it without said item taking up precious space in your work environment.

3. Are you Too Good for Your Home?

Where does that stapler live? How about all of your physical media and files? Everything in your workspace should have a home. You can choose where things “live” based on how often you use them. Organize supplies you use multiple times a day in an easily-accessible desktop organizer. Keep supplies that are used less often in a bottom drawer or portable storage unit.

photo credit: lifehacker.com

4. Love Your Label Maker

There’s no point in storing everything in a filing cabinet if you can’t find it again. Whether you have shelves filled with books and media, or filing drawers stuffed with folders, you should be able to find what you need in a matter of seconds.

For files and books kept on shelves, try a numerical or alphabetical system that is clearly labeled, either with tabs or labels placed on the spines of books and binders.

Files in cabinets should also be clearly labeled in a manner that makes the most sense to you. Maybe alphabetizing doesn’t make as much sense as grouping files into categories. Think about how you associate the contents of various files in your mind, and label each file according to those specifications.

5. The 90-Second Straighten

At the end of each day, take one to two minutes to put everything back in its place. Yes, it feels a bit like clean up time in kindergarten, but doing so will prevent your streamlined workspace from morphing into a clutter-filled monster. When you’re first learning how to organize your workspace, consistency is key, and a minute or two per day is a lot easier to manage than spending hours at a time weeding through a mess.

We’re always looking for new organization ideas at Shoeboxed!  What’s your wackiest workspace organization technique?

 Image via workplaceprivacyreport.com