5 Tips to improve your time management

Use a calendar or agenda to make your tasks visible and improve your time management.

In my last blog, I discuss 5 symptoms of poor time management skills.  This time, I want to share 5 tips to improve your time management. This is a critical skill for entrepreneurs and managers.  

Tips to improve your time management

Set SMART Goals, Prioritize, and Focus

One important task for every manager or entrepreneur is to set business goals, or at least participate in the process of setting them.  Likewise, it is a good practice to set personal goals.  Both types need to be SMART, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.  Strategies fail because they are either not clear, objectives are unrealistic, or the communication is poor.  To avoid failure, it is key to follow a good strategy deployment and goal setting method.  Having clear goals helps prioritize and makes it easier to stay focused on what is important.  

Schedule your tasks

Break each goal into smaller pieces and schedule them through the year depending on priority.  Create and maintain a to-do list based on the tasks that stem from those pieces.  Make the objectives, plans, list, and tasks visible to ensure follow-up.  For instance, calendars, agendas, Leader Standard Work, and others can help with this purpose.  

While scheduling your daily tasks, allow enough time for completion. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. If necessary, track your time for a while for a better estimate of how much time you need. Be realistic about your available time to work on your daily assign tasks. We all know that things happen, so do not schedule activities for the entire day. Also, minimize stress by setting up meetings and events in your calendar 30 minutes earlier.

Checking your schedule should be the first and last thing you do every day.  Check on what you have on the agenda, complete tasks, incomplete, or those you did even start.  Establish a cadence or times throughout the day to check emails and adjust your schedule if necessary.  Above all, always think about the objectives and priorities.   In other words, before you change your itinerary or jump to do something else, ask yourself how that activity will support your goals or priorities.

Stick to your plan

One tip to improve your time management is to create a plan. However, you can have the best plan it can be, but it is no good if you don’t follow it. The top causes for walking out of a good plan are distractions and procrastination. Avoid distractions by turning off notifications. It is very tempting to read that organizational change email or chat with an old colleague, but either of those things will help you to complete your tasks.  Read the post, how do you deal with distractions in the workplace? for more tips.

To overcome procrastination, learn what types of activities you put off. Maybe you are postponing things that you don’t like to do. Another possibility is that they are too complicated or will have a big impact, and you don’t want to fail. Either way, find out what is bothering you and seek a solution. Sometimes, all you need is to ask for help or clarify the purpose or objectives of the task.

While executing your daily plan, focus on one thing at a time.  Multitasking does not help you to be more efficient.  People who multitask decrease their productivity by 20-40% and are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time.

Choose your tasks wisely

Every day you receive invitations for meetings or assignments thrown your way. Therefore, you are at risk of ending with too many things to do. It is better to say no and be honest about your ability to do something than jeopardizing the quality of your work.

If you feel that the meeting or task is important, you can delegate it to your team. Take the chance to coach and train them to gain more skills. Sometimes, outsourcing is the answer to be able to complete some tasks.

Create healthy habits

One way to overcome some of the symptoms of poor time management is by ensuring you have healthy habits. Sleeping and eating habits influence your energy and focus levels. As a result, if they are poor, they will negatively affect the quality and quantity of your work. For that reason, it is worth the try to change them.

Having an exercise routine is another healthy habit with lots of benefits for our work. Reduces stress, anxiety, improve your mood, give you more energy, and of course, helps your overall health. If you don’t have one, start with small steps, like going for a short walk in your break. You can also set a daily steps goal and measure it throughout the day for motivation.

Conclusion

If you want to improve your productivity, follow these tips to improve your time management. The 5 tips are, set SMART goals and prioritize, schedule your tasks, stick to your plan, choose wisely what to do, and create healthy habits. It takes time and consistency to create new habits, but you can do it. The benefits overcome the inconvenience. In summary, managing your time effectively will help you to accomplish more in less time, giving you the opportunity to enjoy yourself with family and friends.

Time Management, are you good at it?

Poor time management cause stress and affects your performance.

Are you an effective time manager?  Before you answer, remember that being busy is not the same as being effective.  Effectiveness is getting the right things done.  However, if you are busy doing things that are not a priority, you are not using your time wisely.  Time management is a coveted skill, especially in this time and age where technology provides the means to be connected all the time.  Therefore, it is easy to get distracted and get off from your day plan.  

How do you know if you have poor performance administrating your time?  Here are some symptoms to help you decide if you are good at it or not.

Five symptoms of poor time management

The quality of your work is not what you would like it to be

As you climb the corporate ladder or your business grows, you have more responsibilities.  Future growth depends on your performance, which is highly influenced by your time management skills.  When you fail at this skill, it will show in different ways.  Some examples are being late for meetings all the time, lack of preparation for meetings, too many emails in your inbox, mistakes or incomplete tasks, and missing deadlines.   

That is not what you want other people to see about you or your work.  Therefore, you need to identify what is causing this situation.  Some possible causes are poorly defined goals, not prioritizing your tasks and the absence of a schedule.  

You are angry, frustrated, or impatient all the time

If you feel stressed, anxious, or fatigue frequently, maybe it is because you are angry, frustrated, or impatient most of the time.  Those negative feelings consume your energy and affect how you performed throughout the day.  Meanwhile, your lack of energy and difficulties in concentrating will force you to work overtime or not take breaks. As a result, the next day, you will be more tired, angry, and impatient.

Sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself or give yourself too little time to complete a task. When that happens, you will not complete it as projected and will be frustrated.  This symptom can be caused by poor or lack of planning.  Likewise, can be a problem of execution or not following the plan.

Procrastination is common practice for you

There is a saying in my country that says, do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.  Although some people thrive waiting until the last minute to complete important work, it is not recommended.  There are many studies that link procrastination with high levels of stress.  If procrastination is a habit for you, stop putting things off.  Learn why you wait until the last minute.  For example, some reasons are that you don’t like that task, or you are doing a less important job first.

Rush through things to accomplish more

If you decide what to do based on the deadlines of the work in front of you, chances are you are rushing through things to finish on time.  As a result, you end up multitasking, which is not a time management solution.  Management by crisis or rushing leads to mistakes and details overlooking, which affects the quality of your work.   

You do everything by yourself

Many entrepreneurs or managers feel that they need to do everything to make sure that things are well done.  I understand that it is nerve-racking, but it does not have to be that way.  First, when something comes up, there is no need to do it immediately.  You would make a note, revisit your tasks for the day, and assign a priority.  The only exception is if the situation is a real emergency.   Second, start to delegate some tasks to your team.  Use the opportunity to coach and develop the skills of your team. Finally, do not say yes to every assignment thrown your way.  Stop taking too much work and be realistic about how much you can accomplish.  Don’t be afraid to say no.

Do you use your time effectively?  

Remember that being effective is about completing the right things, not about doing many things.  In conclusion, you have to set clear goals, have a strategy to accomplish them, and create a daily schedule that would take you closer to the objective.  Also, find ways to keep your focus during the day.  Avoid distractions and unhealthy habits, like smoking.  

With good time management, you will improve the quality of your job, and your mood will be better. Similarly, your relationships will be better because you should have more time to enjoy yourself with your loved ones.

Home office, how to design the best one.

While the country is still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of all kinds and sizes are struggling too.  Many people are still working from home, in some cases, permanently.  The idea of having a home office suddenly becomes as good as having enough living space.  During the first couple of months of this emergency, many people were improvising a small space to work.  Now that it is a reality that you will be working from home either part-time or full time, it is time to stop improvising and start “building” your workspace at home.

Location of the home office

A workspace should be a space dedicated to work only.  Create the habit of working in this area only and do not leave any work items anywhere outside our workspace.  The ideal situation is to have a separate room but, not everybody has a spare room available.  It is helpful to practice 5S around the house to eliminate clutter and create more space.  You can transform an underutilized area like the guest room, the baseman, or even a corner or a wall in your room or garage.  If you have a nice shed with lighting and insulation, big enough to steal space for your office, that will work too!  

But before you choose the space, there are three things that you need to do, understand and learn the purpose of your office, your needs, and how to maximize productivity.

Understand the purpose of your home office

Take your time to plan and create your workspace.  Start with the purpose of the area, are you going to work on the computer only, or you will have conference calls?  Any chance of a video conference?  How about visitors?  What do you need from your internet service?  Are you going to use multiple web-based applications, VPN, firewall? Are you going to print or file documents? 

What do you need to accomplish your work?

Once you know the purpose of the area, think about your needs.  What do you need besides the basics like a desk, chair, and computer?  Be aware that I said needs, not wants.  We all want to have a modern, well-equipped office home, but do you need to have all the equipment you have available at your workplace? Create a list of what you need, what type of equipment, storage, cabinets, and others.  Do not forget internet service speed and reliability, electric outlets, and lighting.  Knowing all these things, you can estimate the space you will need.

Maximize productivity

After identifying what you need to accomplish the purpose of your home office, you are ready to choose the best space.  Know the area before you start moving or buying stuff to create the office.  Remember that even when you are home, you need to keep your productivity levels.  With that in mind, plan the layout and how you are going to use the space.

Consider some basic ergonomic rules, like the following.

  • The top of your computer screen should be at eye level or a little below. 
  • Position your keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. 
  • Adjust your chair so that your feet rest on the floor, or a footrest if you’re short.  

While planning the layout or how you are going to organize your equipment, follow these organization rules.

  • Set minimum and maximum limits for office supply items.  
  • Identify the best location for each item based on the frequency of use and ease of access and return.  Most used items go closer to the user.  
  • Incorporate 5S into the area from the beginning, use visual management.  Mark the location and inventory limits of each item visible.  Use color code for your filing system and create signage to communicate to your family that you are busy in a phone call or video conference, have visitors, or in time-out (no interruptions).

Create the right home office environment

Also, use these tips to create an environment for better productivity.

  • Privacy and the appropriate environment to foster concentration and productivity are critical considerations.  
  • Boundaries are necessary to keep separate home and office spaces.  You can use partitions and free stand dividers to create a physical limit.  
  • Also, thick carpets and drapes, bookcases, and plants will help to soundproof the area. 
  • Follow your work routines or create new ones, like getting dressed, work schedule (clock-in and out times), and time for your breaks.
  • To keep focus and feel connection with other humans, you can get out of your home office and work from the library, a co-work office, or a nearby cafe every once in a while.

Summary

Create your space and start using it.  If something does not feel right, change it.  The beauty of a home office is that you don’t need to ask for authorization to change things.  If you follow all the steps indicated before, you plan how to create the office, create the office, start using it and identify what did not work to change or adapt them.  

You just follow PDCA and 5S as guides to create the best workspace you can.  You can follow these same guidelines if you are in need of creating a space for your home-schooling child.  To create the best workplace at home start with understanding the purpose of the space, know your needs, and design the area to maximize productivity.   

How do you plan your days? What journal or agenda is the best to increase productivity?

Personal organization is as critical for success as the workplace organization is.  Being organized helps improve time management, which increases productivity.  There are so many electronic and hard-copy planners and agendas on the market to help you to organize your tasks and meetings, that it is easy to be confused.  I goggle planners, and I got 520 million results!  There are generic planners, customized, different sizes, colors, and formats.  They can be daily, weekly, or monthly.  Some are specific for projects, marketing, blogging, personal items, academics, and others.  Journals, agendas, or planners need to work for you if you work fine with any of those on the market fine, but if not, this article is for you.

Through the years, I used almost every planner or journal on the market while looking for my perfect match. I needed a system to plan, execute, and follow-up on my personal and business goals and projects.  I hated those planners with tight formats.  They pretend that every day, week, and month are the same!  You have plenty of space to write every task, meeting, and activity to the hour, but little to no space to write your thoughts or ideas.  You either end with a bunch of empty lines (which is waste) or give up on your attempt to organize your life.  The third option is to persevere, observe, learn, and design the system that works for you.  That is what I did.

Years ago, I learned about the Bullet Journal Method, created by Ryder Carroll.  His book, The Bullet Journal Method:  Track the Past, order the present, design the future, is an international best-seller.   The official web page describes the method as the mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. For me, the best part was that finally, I had a tool that I can customize my way, that gave me total control of what I want to include, or not, how many pages I want or need for this week, or even be creative and write quotes, make drawings, or put a fun sticker here and there.  I could use the very formal, very bore classic black ink or as many colors as I want.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, I have been experimenting with different formats for years.  My goal is to have a planner-journal to keep me organized, productive, and mentally sane.  I managed to combine my entire self in one book, my personal life with bills payment included along with my business goals tasks and projects.  I have a very colorful, organized, and informative book that is as diverse as I am.  It works because I created a process to work with it, a standard that, if I follow, is effective to guide me through my days and help to plan, execute, follow-up, study, and redesign my tasks, projects, and goals from dream to accomplishment.

I start with my goals divided by quarters or by months.  That is my baseline for projects and other activities because it ensures alignment between goals and tasks.  Every month I listed my tasks, events, confirmed projects or contracts, personal appointments, and others.  Some of these goals come from my business plan and others from projects.  I allocated each entry within a specific week of the month.  At the beginning of every week, I will revise the corresponding list to add or delete items.  I decide which weekday I will work on each of those items.  Be realistic about the number of tasks you assign for a day, count with interruptions, unexpected meetings or phone calls, and things that don’t go as planned.  I found that my weekly tasks list is no more than six items, one for each day plus one, just in case I can get ahead.

You can create your system and design your agenda too.  Start with a plain, cheap school notebook, and draw whatever you want your agenda to be.  If you don’t like it, tomorrow create something else.  It took me years to get to a point where I feel good with what I have, but as a CI student and practitioner, I know that I will change it sooner or later.  The best planner or agenda, it the one that works for you! Do not give up, keep trying until you find the right one.

Is multitasking effective to increase productivity?

Multitasking is a common strategy to try to deliver tasks on time. Do you know what the number one excuse to not complete something on time is? Yes, you guessed it, it’s a lack of time. Time management skills are critical for personal and professional success. Single parents and entrepreneurs are among those who need time management super skills.

The way you handle time determines whether or not you complete all the tasks you have scheduled. Being organized is one of those skills that help to manage your time better. Most people think that multitasking is an ability that helps to increase productivity but is not.

What science says about multitasking

People who multitask decrease their productivity by 20-40% and are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time. Time lost switching among tasks increases the complexity of the tasks (University of Michigan)

Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t do more than one task at a time. Each time we move from one thing to another, there is a start-stop process in the brain. In other words, each time you change tasks, you have to refocus your brain and determine what to do. Multitasking should be called switch-tasking and does not help productivity. For better time management, try the following things.

Skills you need to master time management

  1. Organization
    • Practice 5S in your office or work area
    • Organize your meetings and tasks throughout the day. Meetings are better early during the day because the time leading up to an event is often wasted.
    • Separate your routine, automatic tasks from the strategic ones. Strategic duties usually need a higher level of focus, schedule them for the daytime at which you are more productive.
    • Choose one subject for the day, for example, on Monday I work with everything related to budget and Tuesday is for project updates.
  2. Prioritization
    • Know your priorities and identify how you will measure progress. Assign deadlines for everything.
    • Identify the most important things for you and mark them on your calendar or agenda with a special color. Develop the habit of working with those first.
  3. Goal Setting
    • You have goals for your business, and you also have personal goals. Keep an eye on both, create the habit of reviewing them periodically.   
    • You cannot work with all at the same time, divide your goals for the year into smaller time buckets. 
    • Prioritize your goals while dividing in buckets, your yearly goals into months, month goals into weeks, and weeks into days.
  4. Planning
    • Be realistic while planning your daily activities. Regardless of how well you organize and plan, things happen.
    • Make time for the unexpected, plan for not more than 4-5 hours of work per day.
    • Remember those priorities? Always know the one thing you need to get done during the day and do it as early as possible.
  5. Communication
    • Communicate your priorities, goals, and plans with your team or family. Let others help you to be on track for success!
  6. Delegation
    • “If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate!” – John C. Maxwell

Remember, working more hours does not make you more productive, neither does multitasking. Work smarter, not harder!

Do you need to declutter your desktop?

how to declutter your desktop

Do you have a personal computer? Chances are you do. In 2016, 89.3% of all households in the United States had a computer at home. In a country where 43% of the population categorized themselves as disorganized, it is safe to assume that their computers are cluttered. Keep reading to see how to declutter your desktop.

Cluttered desktop effects

A cluttered desktop slows your computer and you down. Like physical clutter, it negatively affects productivity. Electronic clutter contributes to stress, which affects your quality of life.

How to declutter your desktop

The desktop is not for file storage, it must help to navigate your computer easier and get the information you need faster. Declutter your desktop is easy, the following are ways to do it.

  • Clean up folders and pictures from your desktop. That massive quantity of files and pictures on your desktop are in the incorrect place.
  • Create folders to keep the documents organized by subject.
  • Take advantage of cloud services to keep your pictures. Organize them in a way that is efficient for you: by date, event or place.
  • Do not clutter your desktop with shortcuts, use them for those applications that you use more often only.

Stop wasting time searching for documents or shortcuts on your desktop. Cut the searching time and avoid distractions to improve productivity.

How do you deal with distractions in the workplace?

how to deal with distractions in the workplace

Udemy for Business surveyed US workers in 2018 about distractions in the workplace. More than half (54%)  said that their performance is not as well as it should be because of workplace distractions. Half of them think that they are significantly less productive. The top two distractors mentioned were chatty coworkers and office noise. They also indicated that open office layout and digital distractions are affecting the ability to focus.

Even if you don’t work on an office setting distractions are affecting your productivity too. Here are some tips to avoid them.

How to avoid distractions in the workplace

  • Know when your focus and creativity levels are higher and plan to do your most difficult tasks during that period. Block that time in your calendar and notify everybody that you are not available unless it is an emergency. 
  • If you are a morning person, try to come earlier to the office and take advantage of the quiet space. If you are a night owl, you can stay later to tackle those tasks.
  • When you need to focus on an important task while everybody else is present, set some rules. Let everybody know in a polite way that you need some “Do not Disturb” time.
  • Create the perfect environment, avoiding distractions. Turn off all notifications, chats, and social media. 
  • Set specific periods to interact with business emails and social media.
  • Keep your work area clean and organize to avoid visual distractions.

More tips to manage distractions

Regardless of how hard you try, somebody or something will distract you. There are a few more things that you can do. For example, learn how to manage distractions like emails and office noise. Also, turn off the emails notification and use blocks of time to work with them. Use headphones to cancel the noise, or have a sign to tell people that you would like to not be disturbed during that time.

Also, remember that having a good night’s sleep and healthy eating habits will help you to have the energy to concentrate. Find your own trick, and keep the focus!

Do you need 5S in the office?

Have you ever think about 5S in the office? There is no doubt that sometimes offices are scary.  There are too many things to do, and it feels that no time to do them.   It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially if it is cluttered and neglected.  There are many benefits to getting organized. Offices are a great place to practice 5S.  

The following are signs that you need 5S in the office.  

  • Office workers spend too much time searching for information or missing documents. 
  • Folders and other documents piled on your desk
  • Documents on top of cabinets
  • The filing cabinets have documents that you keep just in case, or things that you know are duplicates.
  • Your desk drawers contain a mix of items, from snacks to old pens, to things borderline trash.
  • Your office or cubicle is a mini supplies room.

I want to share with you some tips for 5S in the office.  Let’s see them one step at a time.

Sort – When in doubt, move it out.  

What do you need to do your job?  Needs are things that are necessary to perform the job tasks.  You only keep what you need to accomplish your job.

  • Information regarding how long documents are stored and the official storage location for them is contained in the company document retention policy.   
  • Empty all your desk drawers, file, and storage cabinets and go over all the items inside.  Relocate what does not belong to the appropriate place.
  • Remove documents that by policy, you don’t need to keep any more or another person or department should keep.  Check that they have a copy before trashing or destroying the documents.
  • Try to go digital for everything you don’t need to keep a hardcopy.
  • Move out of your office or cubicle all the extra office supplies you keep.

Set in Order – A place for everything and everything in its place!

  • Create electronic folders to file those documents that you need to have, but not necessarily need a hardcopy.
  • If it is possible, move furniture, filing documents and small equipment like desk printers in such a way that follows the information flow.  
  • Assign a drawer to one type of things only, for example office supplies or personal items.
  • Those files and other items that you use more frequently should go closer to you.  
  • Think about how you are going to organize the files in the cabinets, and how you will divide the documents in sections.  Use names that are pertinent and easy to understand.   
  • Remove safety hazards such as materials blocking aisles, doorways and exits.

Shine – Make inspect and clean part of your daily routine.

  • Clean all furniture and cabinets inside and out using appropriate tools and supplies.
  • Inspect while you clean.  
  • Repair or request repair for what is not quite in good condition, like missing screws for handles.
  • Clean your computer keyboard and desk printer.

Standardize – Follow the standards daily, success is a habit, not an act.

  • Set clear expectations with clear rules and polices that includes daily activities and frequency for non-daily activities.
  • Non-daily activities should include regular audits to ensure everybody follows the set rules.
  • Update or create the retention files policy and create an easy to follow job-aid to help the entire team to understand and follow it.
  • Make official all the temporary markings for your file cabinets and desk.
  • Establish minimum and maximum quantities for all items in the supply room.
  • Make 5S part of the on-boarding training for new employees.
  • Recognize and reward achievements in the 5S Program.
  • Have a bulletin board for all 5S activities, including recognition.

Sustain – Cleaning and organizing is a practice, not a project. Make 5S part of your daily routine.

  • Ensure everybody participates of the 5S Program
  • Do daily walks to ensure everybody is following the rules.
  • Make 5S part of your daily work, include 5S new and comments on daily performance meetings.
  • Conduct monthly audit and communicate the results.  Use them to recognize the best.

As always, 5S in the office is a team activity. Reclute your team to implement 5S and make it part of the daily routine. You will see results right away, the environment in the work area will be so much better!

Is managing your email inbox driving you crazy?

You can manage your emails inbox effectively, use 5S.
Manage your emails effectively

How do you manage your email inbox? Do you know that the average office worker spends 13 hours per week on emails alone? A typical business professional sends and receives 122 emails daily. With those numbers, there is no doubt why you feel like managing your inbox is all you do.

How to manage your email inbox

To avoid going crazy about your emails, apply housekeeping and organization to your inbox.

Like every time you want to use 5S, start sorting out the messages you don’t need. Browse your email on the lookout for promotions and subscriptions. Sometimes you subscribe to a digital newsletter or give away your email address to obtain some information. You are not interested in keeping the subscription anymore but never unsubscribe from it. Go ahead and unsubscribe now, do not touch that email more than once! Do the same thing with promotions that you don’t want to receive anymore. Identify spam emails and put them in the spam folder immediately.

Set in order and clean your inbox

While you browse for emails, make a list of those that you receive periodically and need to keep. Think about customers, suppliers, invoices, and your team. To set in the order, you have to prioritize and categorize your messages. Create categories like my team, finances, insurance, customers, and suppliers. You do not have to go through all your emails, but make sure you include your most frequent contacts.

To shine or clean your inbox, archive or delete emails as you go. Make a routine to read your emails during certain times of the day. Reading emails every five minutes is a productivity killer. For example, I read emails in the morning as part of my routine to create or revise my agenda. Later, before lunchtime, I check again and then before going home. Be open about your process, ensure that your key people know it. This way, if they need your attention, they will text or call.

Standardize how you manage your email inbox

Now is time to standardize your email inbox. Use the contact list you build to create and assign categories to your contacts. With Outlook and Gmail, you can create color-coded categories or filters based on certain criteria. Also, you can assign priorities. For example, invoices have high priority, but digital newspapers are a low priority. Change your email settings, so incoming emails go straight to the appropriate folder or have the right label.

To ensure your inbox is under control, create rules to sustain the tidy state. Daily, as you check your emails, decide what you need to do with the information received. Create tasks or events using the message and then archive or delete. Establish a frequency to revise your emails looking for contacts that need to be categorized or are not relevant anymore. 

Your email inbox does not have to drive you crazy. Stop the insanity and 5S your inbox!

Desk organization, how good are you?

How to organize your desk at work
How to organize your desk at work and keep it organized

Is the desk organization one of your strengths? Do you have a process to organize your desk at work? A messy desk is a common cause of poor time management. Piles of papers, magazines, and folders on your desk make you waste time searching for what you need.

Fun facts about desk organization

  • The average US executive wastes 6 weeks per year searching for missing information in messy desks and files.
  • A person who works on a cluttered desk spends, on average 2.5 hours looking for things.
  • The average desk worker spends 3 hours per week sorting piles trying to find the project to work on next.

Don’t be like them! A cluttered space makes you feel overwhelmed. Creativity and productivity are not good in that state of mind. Tidy up your desk and keep it that way. A good way to improve the desk organization is by using 5S.

How to improve your desk organization

Start by sorting what you have on the desk. Do you need to keep all those papers? Recycle or shred what you don’t need. If you need the information but not the physical paper, scan the document. Make sure you create virtual folders for them with logic names that represent the content. If you already used them and need to keep the hard copies, file them in the appropriate file cabinet. Control the papers around you at the source. The best practice is to think before you print. It is good for the environment but also for your time management and office supplies budget. 

As you move papers out of your way, you will uncover other items like mail and lost invoices. Get rid of what you don’t need and put those items that need further action in a dedicated bin. Make the habit to deal with incoming mail daily. Sometimes people pay bills late because they can’t find the bill or don’t remember if they receive it or paid already.

Dispose of everything that is trash. Why you have pens without ink or snack envelopes on your desk? Dispose of what you don’t need as soon as you don’t need it.

Desk organization is not just for the top of the desk

Check the drawers too! You will find more papers, snacks, and extra office supplies. It is convenient to dedicate one drawer for your things, like snacks. Create a share location for office supplies to reduce unnecessary inventory. Keep on your desk just what you need. How many pencils or black pens you need at a time?

Most people like to have things on their desks that make them feel at home. A picture frame with our kids, a pencil holder with the logo of our favorite team, you name it. That is ok but control the quantity, one or two items should be enough.

Create rules to sustain your desk organization

To sustain your progress take 5 minutes at the beginning and end of the day to manage your desk items. Start each morning planning your day. Retrieve and organize the documents you need for immediate work. At the end of the day sort your papers and mail and take immediate action. Recycle, scan, or file those documents, do not accumulate thinking that you will need them later. Many companies establish a clean desk policy to control sensitive information from lying around.

Benefits of keeping your desk clean and organize

There are multiple benefits to keep your desk organization. It saves time and money. Uncluttered desks reduce overwhelming feelings and stress and increase productivity. A clean desk keeps sensitive items confidential and makes a good impression. Take back all that time and develop your system to ensure not falling back to the old ways.