You can start your own personal revolution with a simple change such as arranging desk paper into project files, a working file (active projects you are currently working on) as well as a quick access file for files/documents you use often, directories, references etc. This can make a huge difference if you can learn to recognise the items you need now vs those you use less often vs the dust-collectors for disposal/filing – it’s simple implementation from there.
It does also take some time and effort to make the change and for many, a step away from bad habits borne of an often misplaced sense of urgency (we’ll look more at this next month).
A real change necessitates the establishment of new, positive habits and behaviours along with a personal pledge to never just dump papers on your desk; to never just download a file to your desktop. You’ll minimise the need to tidy up because things will be in their place from the outset. Not to mention the time that you’ll save searching for things, that can be used on more important activities.
PEPworldwide’s Person Efficiency Programme recommends a “Do it Now (if it will take you less than 10 minutes) or Decide Now” approach to personal management which can affect not only the free space on your desk and PC, but your productivity and efficiency.
How does it work? If you’re not going to address the issue right this minute, then decide exactly what you are going to do with it. Develop it (take it to the next level), diarise it in your Outlook, designate it to your task list, delegate it, do it routinely (for example, checklists or invoices you can regulate), deposit/file it, dump/delete it or get help if you need more information. These guidelines can help cut down your desk paper and email inbox, if applied consistently – while helping you apply priorities to tasks, building personal organisation and thus, efficiency.
Apart from decreasing stress levels and encouraging a bit more organisation, what exactly are the efficiency and productivity gains from making things a bit more ‘zen’? Let’s say you have an Executive who grosses $60,000 per year. That translates into about 50 cents per minute. Think of the precious time spent going through work ‘stuff’ to get to the real work – a loss of, say, 30 minutes each day. In a year, the time wasted will cost your company about $3,000 in lost productivity. This adds up across multiple employees too. So, consider, how much time and money are you wasting looking for this or reprinting that (because your last copy is ‘somewhere’ on the desk).
To add to the bottom line, chances are it’s not just you shaking your head every time you see your cluttered and messy workspace. It seems your colleagues and even your boss will be judging you also. In fact, a 2012 US study of 1,000 workers by Adecco suggests employees will look on someone more negatively if their desk or cubicle is a mess. A third said they saw a chaotic workstation as a sign of laziness. Three-quarters of those surveyed said employees are most productive when their desk is neat.
Top tips for workplace zen:
- Adopt a “Do it Now or Decide Now” approach to tasks – it will simplify your life
- If it’s not in a project folder, active project folder or daily access folder; Store it elsewhere or dump it
- Ensure your space is well lit – natural light is best, but work with what you’ve got
- Ensure you have everything you need (but only what you need), in its place
- Use the last 10 minutes of your day to ‘restore order’. Chaos is banned
- Don’t succumb to the filing cabinet ‘dumping ground’ – keep legal and important documents only in named folders
- Post its can be useful, yet, they are clutter and all too often get lost. Put these away and write down reminders in a notebook
- Use your Outlook calendar to your advantage: Set time for work or tasks and ensure what’s physically on your desk represents exactly what you need to achieve in that time(no distractions)
- Your PC is an extension of your workspace – keep it organised
- Your inbox is also an extension of your workspace – keep it organised (an email filing system can work wonders)
Mark Rigby PEPworldwide – New Zealand
Johan Chr. Holst, PEPworldwide Norway, Redaktør.
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