Let’s talk about our workspaces. During a typical workday, we spend more waking hours in the office than outside of it. If you haven’t done so already, I would encourage you to look at your workspace with fresh eyes. Does your space fill you up? Is it organized and tidy? I’ve found I quickly become blind to the pile of papers that is camping out on my desk waiting until the dust settles enough to become a priority. Take an honest assessment of your space, and ask yourself what you can do to make it at more organized and life-giving space.
Remember last week when I went through the 5 Steps to Organize Anything? We are going to apply this method to our desk. Step #1 is to set time parameters. This will be less of an issue when you set up a system to maintain your desk’s organization on a consistent basis. If your desk is a mess, don’t fret! You are taking the first step to address it. Allow yourself an hour or two to set up your desk to be more productive. Step #2 is to get rid of everything you don’t need to have on your desk. Ask yourself if everything that is on your desk is pertinent to what you have on your plate on a day-to-day basis. If the answer is no, then find that item another home or get rid of it altogether. Step #3 is to group similar items, and step 4 is to create a place for everything. What does this step look like when it comes to my desk? I keep a small tiered desktop filing rack within arm’s reach which contains current projects, a file for collecting receipts, menus, etc. It’s crazy how often I’m pulling something out of this rack and it sure beats these things sitting in a disorganized pile on my desk. I have also kept an inbox on my desk to collect requests, documents needing signatures, etc., and a small container that holds paper clips, push pins and Post-it notes.
This has little to do with organization, but is essential in creating a space you actually want to be in for 8-10 (or 12 or 14) hours a day. Add personal touches. Make your space beautiful to you. For me, this looks like a pretty pen cup, a picture of my husband and I celebrating the purchase of our first house together, and a special mug I purchased just for my office. Perhaps you want a bit of greenery or special curtains. Figure out what fills you up and make sure to include them in your workspace.
As assistants, our job generally necessitates maintaining files and storing other items. As these items are typically already curated and grouped together, I’ll give you a rundown of what works for me with regards to organizing files along with a couple of common pitfalls.
I manage many aspects of my boss’s life, including family/personal items, finances, and company affairs. I’ve color-coded my files to reflect these areas. Blue for all company-related files, yellow for all personal items, and red for finances. This narrows down for me at a glance where I need to look for any given file.
A common pitfall I’ve come across with regards to filing is over-filing. What do I mean when I say over-filing? Creating so many file folders to the point where the system no longer serves the purpose of grouping like items. I once had a job where this was a big issue with my predecessor. Our boss liked us to file away emails, and there were so many files it made it nearly impossible to find anything. This drove my boss crazy and me crazy too! I spent a lot of time cleaning up these files. On the opposite end, not creating enough categories can waste a lot of time and create frustration when you’re in a crunch to find something. It’s a fine line.
What about those other pesky non-file related items you need to store? I have a few cloth colored bins with lids where I store envelopes, personal snacks, etc. They’re nice to look at and functional.
Now I want to hear from you! How do you organize your workspace? What beautiful things do you like to surround yourself with at work?
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