Jim Rohn said that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Doesn’t it make sense to say that we are as productive as our surroundings? To me, that logic applies. When our office becomes a bit too busy, we know that it’s time to declutter and reorganize. Before long, we’re back to our normal, productive selves.

Here are our best tips for keeping your office organized and flowing like a well-oiled machine.

Declutter

  • Clean out your desk drawers, shelves, and any closets to free up more storage space.
  • Digitize any important documents and create a backup system.
  • Buy inexpensive boxes in which to store archived documents, and assign discard dates to documents that should be kept for a specified length of time.

Purge

  • Throw away, shred and empty everything you no longer want or need.
  • If something no longer works, either send it in for repairs or throw it away.
  • Get rid of anything that has not been used in a few months and that you may not need again.
  • If your decorations, knick-knacks, furniture and real or artificial plants don’t enhance your office, throw them out too.

Re-Organize

  • Over time, items tend to become displaced. Gather up everything that is not in its rightful place and put it where it belongs.

Re-Zone

  • Create office zones in which certain activities take place, for instance your main work area (desk), a filing area and a supply area. Ensure that each area is equipped with whatever supplies you need in close proximity of each area.

Organize Your Desk

  • Have a new mail tray for new communications and an old one for items that need to be filed.
  • If you regularly work with the same group of people and receive communications from each, it may help to have a box for each.
  • Create a Waiting on Response folder for items that are on hold for whatever reason. Follow up on these items every few days.
  • Only keep the most essential items on your desk.
  • Sort each drawer by type, i.e. one drawer for stationary, ¬†another for paperwork, etc.
  • Keep a stack of cards for all occasions in your drawer, in case you don’t have time to rush out to buy it at the last minute.
  • Keep menus for your favorite take-outs on hand so that you can order in or order ahead and collect to save time.

Plan Your Days and Weeks

  • At the end of each day, make a to-do list for the next day and sort your mail into different piles, ready to take action in the morning.
  • Use a dry-wipe calendar to plan your week in advance.
  • If you collaborate with other people, use Google Calendar to set up meetings and appointments.

Organize Your Computer

  • Create a folder for each person or company you deal with on a regular basis.
  • Create a folder for “waiting on response” emails.
  • Download apps to help you manage your time.
  • Create a separate user account for work and personal.
  • Maintain the health of your computer by running regular antivirus and malware scans.

It may seem like a major commitment to stay this organized, but even if you simply use one of the tips above, you should benefit from a more efficient work area. Instead of wasting precious time looking for items or carrying out last minute damage control, you will have much more time to invest into actual work.