1.Assess. Before organizing, determine just what it is that is on your desk. We get a better idea of what we actually use our work space for when we look at what is in that space as it usually is. Notice what piles up on the desk. Determine what is on your desk that is never used, and what you use that might need to be closer at hand. Notice what is challenging about your desk arrangement (for example, not enough light, poor position, not enough storage or work space). Notice what your style of working is. For example, do you prefer to have your work out where you can see it or do you prefer to keep files and materials out of sight? What works for you?
2. Clear, Clean and Plan. Completely clear your desk, and clean the surface. Decide what functions you want your desk space to serve. Decide what you want to go on the desk, how you want to position the desk, and what, if anything you need to make your desk more effective, attractive, and comfortable. Perhaps it's time for a new chair, or a more ergonomically-sound way to set up your computer system (maybe it's time for a larger screen or an elevated stand).
3. Place desk in Command Position. You ought to be able to see the doorway from your desk, but the desk should not be in direct line of the doorway. You want to be able to see whoever comes in or leaves your space, and you want energy to flow freely, but not be too direct so as to disturb your train of thought and concentration.
4. Prioritize space and projects. While working as an Executive Director, I had the privilege of being able to hire my own assistant. Having been a woman academic for many years, I was used to doing all my own work. When I had the good fortune to have Rosa Rodriguez’ teach me how to accept assistance, and how to organize my desk more efficiently. In working with an assistant to delegate and make the best use of someone’s help. She suggested that I only keep those files in my desk that I was working on right now. Right now might mean this week, this month, or (as is the case with many writers) this year. Any file that pertained to other business, less frequently used information, was filed in her office. My assistant also helped me delegate and
Since I do not have an assistant at this time, I treat sections of my office as I would an assistant. I set aside work that could or should be done by someone else, and separate my professional documents from my personal business and correspondence. I operate 3 businesses from home, so I have my writing business, my photography business, and my counseling business files, supplies, and information in separate places. There is some overlap, so I use a code in my files (cross reference) to indicate where items might be stored. For example, insurance papers related to both counseling and photography, would be stored under counseling, and in photography . I use a cross-reference under insurance to check in the photography files.
5. Put what you need most within arm’s reach. Once you have determined how you work, what you use most, and what you use periodically, organize your desk top so that what you need is within arm’s reach. That is unless of course you want to get up and down from your desk to keep yourself moving. I sometimes arrange my work system around my need to take breaks and exercise. There are some items that ought to be within arm’s reach: pens, pencils, paper (notepad), stapler, hand lotion, tissues, water, scissors, or whatever you decide are your essentials.
6.Store and File items used less frequently. Store files off your desk, either in a file cabinet, bank box, or some other system. Keep supplies on shelves, in a closet, or boxed up away from your work space and out of sight. Keep some type of filing cabinet near your desk or workspace, but not necessarily within arm’s distance.
7, Create a Working Calendar. At regular intervals, prioritize, plan, and organize your work. For example, plan for the next 12-18 months. Break down long-term projects into related tasks and deadlines. Put appointments, appearances, and deadlines on a long-term planning calendar. Then break work down to 3 months, monthly, and then weekly increments. Pick a calendar system that works for you. Use an online calendar, or an 18-month wall planner. Use a Blackberry or a Filofax date planner. Whatever you use, keep a computer back up, and run off weekly calendars and trip calendars to keep at hand while you are working or traveling. My secretary used to hand me a daily or weekly calendar printed up whenever I attended meetings, began the week, or took a business trip.
8. Make your desk workable. Create a way to keep files, projects, papers you are working on at hand. You might use a color code to mark folders (green=in process; blue=complete; red=needs more research). I have gone back to using an In and Out box. Label them what you will, but do not keep more than 4-5 open files on your desk top. Keep the area beneath your desk clear of clutter. Do not store anything under your desk. Clutter blocks Chi/energy, and tends to make us feel stuck. Arrange the lighting, heat, chair, and area around your desk in a way that makes it conducive to working. Check the flow of Chi/energy, and clear anything that blocks the positive, free flow of energy in and around your desk. Place the desk so that you are able to see the doorway, but are not in the direct line of the door.
9. Arrange equipment. Organize your computer, printer, external hard drive and other equipment making certain to maintain open desk space. Keep wires hidden and out of sight. Store supplies away from your work space, and make certain you have enough of everything you need. Bounty begets bounty. Having enough paper, toners, pens, or whatever equipment and supplies you need, releases energy and relieves us of concern about lack. This in turns, frees us up to be more creative and productive.
10. Beautify your space. Arrange your desk, to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Place a plant (lucky bamboo) or fresh-cut flowers on your desk. Using the principles of Feng Shui, add objects of art and items that attract positive Chi. Wood promotes creativity, as do the colors green and brown. Behind your desk, in the southern sector of your office (fame and reputation) place a fire element (art, candle, windows, light) and something red to activate this area. In the career of your desk and office (center front), place a water element (fish bowl, water art) and use the colors black and midnight blue to accentuate your space. Water activates communication, networking, travel, and shared wisdom. Make your workspace comfortable, beautiful, and harmonized.
Head on over to Artisana Gallery and Gifts in Pacific Grove, and find some special items to help you create a positive new office environment to start off the school and work year.