Every Wednesday in January, the G.O with C.G.O. post is focusing on offices. This can be your home office, or your at-work office. The same advice will apply.
Our first post is going to be just about the surfaces and cables… Regardless of what we do in theses spaces, we want to prime the space itself for making us as productive as possible. (Whether or not you spend your time playing solitaire in there once it is all organized is up to you.)
Like many rooms in the house, you’ll do your best in here when you’ve stripped away the extra distractions and get rooted in the basics:
– The only items out on display on surfaces are things you need regularly and currently
– You have good storage and access for the items you need occasionally
– You have thoughtful archiving systems for items you need to keep for years, but never access.
First: The surfaces
Many of us work best when the surfaces on our desk are cleared off, and we have items that need attention in an inbox or other receptacle that is there for the viewing when we’re ready for it. How do you get there?
- Think about what you REALLY need on your desk.
- Keep out only what needs to be out. Put away the rest.
- All the rest are piles? You’ve heard the saying: Piles are just deferred decisions. Gather and tackle, and commit to working through them, to figure out what you need to keep, where you need to keep it, and what can be let go (either recycled, shredded, or let go in some other way).
- Make sure you’ve got a place where things go… with intention. An INBOX for items that need to action. A TO BE FILED box for items that have been processed, need to be kept, and you will file. (And you know where they will go.)
Second: Inside the drawers
Drawers in our home office typically hold:
- Office supplies
- Short term files
- Long term files
- Blank checks, envelopes, and other tools you might use in the office
- Other stuff that seems to land in a home office, because there is no other place for it. (You just know this will be a future topic here, right?)
Office supplies can multiply and come to the home office to die. Some of us have stashes that will help us through some sort of office supply Armageddon. We don’t need it, and it’s taking up more space in our office than it deserves.
You don’t need:
- more than a dozen pens (and lets just make sure the ones you keep actually work)
- more than a few pencils
- more than 2 scissors
- more than a few markers and highlighters
- extra envelopes in sizes you haven’t used in a year
- more than a few (like, seriously, 3) rubber bands
- white out. Seriously, when did you last correct something with white out
- THAAAT many clips, paper, binder or other wise.
Now, about those cords and cables
- First, make sure the only cords you’ve got out and around are for things you need regularly
- Second, make sure the cords are labeled at the plug… whether you use a label maker or a bread bag tag, there are great ways to make sure that, when you’re near the outlet or the surge protector
- Consider some of the great products you can use to help corral cables, both in a functional and attractive way. You can’t beat the selection at The Container Store, though you can find many options elsewhere:
- By the way… not using a surge protector for your electronics? Consider it. And make sure it’s genuinely a surge protector, and not just a multi-outlet plug
- Better yet, go wireless for as much as you can — your keyboard, your mouse, your printer, so many things can be without cords.
Finally, those walls
What’s on your walls now? Hopefully, if you have a calendar, it’s for the right year.
If you have a bulletin board, make sure the items you have tacked on it are things you truly need to view and access… visual clutter can be just as distracting as the piles on your desk.
Got a white board or other memo board? Same as with the bulletin boards, make sure the info you have on there is current and necessary.
You should be able to come into your office and feel that you’ve created a zone that you can be productive, not distracted, when focusing on the important work that needs to get done in there.
And remember, the less distraction you have when you’re in there, the sooner you’ll be done and getting back to the fun stuff. Or boring stuff… just not in that room. Your choice!