Decluttering – at Work

Now that I’m in my decluttering mode at home, it makes sense to continue this at my place at work. After a year off, I returned to a hot-desk, a full inbox and not much space to put anything – which is probably a good thing.

Before I left on maternity leave, my desk looked something like this…

  • Piles of papers lying about in no particular order
  • An overflowing in-tray that also doubled as an out-tray, ‘some-day’ tray and ‘what the hell is this?’ tray
  • Assorted personal knick-knacks including a variety of crystals, a Santa Claus garden gnome and a South American chicken ornament
  • Pens, pencils, post-it notes and bits and bobs which I’ll call ‘office confetti’ cos I sprinkled them everywhere
  • Old pairs of shoes left under the desk and a wallpaper stripper that I’d lent to a colleague and hadn’t taken home yet
  • Herbal teas and cough sweets
  • A collection of assorted stress balls
  • A selection of google-eyed furry things that stuck to my computer (if anyone knows the correct name for these please let me know!)

It was time for a fresh start. The impression I wanted to give to my boss was ‘professional’ rather than ‘wacky’; ‘organised’ rather than ‘pack rat’. It was time to ditch the personal mementos and streamline my surroundings. If I wanted a promotion, it wouldn’t hurt to smarten up my image.

Now I had a new clean and tidy desk and a strong desire to keep it that way, I thought about what to do next. Those trendy office buzzwords – ‘sustainability’ and the ‘paperless office’ sprang to mind, so my next steps will be as follows:

  • Resist the urge to print – thereby saving time, space and energy
  • Learn to read documents online – I still struggle with this, but I’m getting better
  • Deal with meeting notes and handouts promptly and file using the recycling bin – most of these notes are now on online and if they were not, I could ask them to be uploaded
  • Deal with any hard copy correspondence immediately, although these days this was usually junk mail.

After three days at work, I already had a file full of paper so I vowed to go through this and recycle!

On a positive note, my online filing system and inbox were a little bit more organised.

  • I tried to clear my inbox of emails every evening, delegating, deleting, and replying as appropriate. This kept the number at a level I could easily manage.
  • I created folders to file important emails effectively
  • I also saved project related emails in their appropriate folder on my shared drive for easy retrieval

My main problem in this area remains resisting the urge to check my email every ten minutes or so and restrict it to every hour. Room for improvement there, but at least on the surface I was feeling more organised and that is sometimes half the battle.

If anyone has any top tips on staying organised at work, I would love to hear from you.



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