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Clear Your Office Clutter for a Healthy Mind and Body

When it comes to our personal working spaces, we all tend to fall into one of two categories: the enviably fastidious and the hopelessly haphazard. If you fall into the second category, it’s time for a wake-up call. It is no longer acceptable to work at a desk that groans under the weight of neglected books, abandoned post-it notes, food crumbs and a small forest’s worth of printed paper. All that disorganization leads to stress, which has negative mental and physical effects. Isn’t it time you got your office clutter under control?

When you arrive at your job on a workday, what do you see? A clean, clear, and clutter-free desk? Or a workspace that looked like a tornado had swept through? As your day goes on, when you need to locate an important piece of paperwork, would you be able to find it in a hurry?  Or would you waste precious time digging through a disorganized pile of random items?

Later still, when you urgently needed a phone number, could you calmly retrieve it? Or would you have to pick through a bunch of crumpled notes and scan the margins of your notebook in a desperate attempt to track it down?

There’s no time like the present to transform yourself into an efficient employee so that you’ll be able to work smarter, rather than harder, getting more done in less time and with less stress. Follow this practical advice:

1. Clear the useless clutter. Get rid of those old coffee cups and half-empty bottles of water. Toss those old newspapers, magazine clippings, and memos. Transport that abandoned packaging to the trash and those extra office supplies back to the storage room.

2. Sort everything out. Take a ruthless approach to the paperwork on your desk and the disorganized files in your cabinet. If you haven’t looked at it in months, throw it out or put it into storage. Ditto for your drawer: if you’ve never used that hole puncher or those color-coded post-its, remove them from your office space.

3. Don’t forget your computer. A computer desktop can be just as disorganized as your “real” one, so don’t forget to whip your hard drive into organizational shape. Archive old emails, categorize current messages into folders and set up filters for future emails. For example, you could have junk automatically going into one folder, personal into another, urgent into another still. Next, delete redundant documents, divide existing "important" folders and create additional sub-folders where necessary, using a logical structure. Then start, or update, your contact database. Try to group the contacts together for easy access. Try also to use the notes or relational functions that come with packages like Microsoft Outlook. You can record information such as when you last spoke, what the subject was and when you next need to make contact. If you have a task list, take full advantage of it. Key in daily objectives then give them a priority, a deadline, a time allocation, and, if possible, get your computer to give you a reminder which will be flagged up at the appropriate moment.

Even a little less stress can have huge benefits for your health. Simply by becoming more organized in your office space or home environment, you can make a significant impact on your life and longevity.

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