Why Work Space Matters: 3 Simple Steps for Getting Organized

Feel like you’re drowning in a sea of clutter? Are piles of paper encroaching on your work space? Do you waste valuable time looking for needed items?

It might be time to make yourself accountable for getting organized.

For some people, “getting organized” means taking 5 minutes to put things where they belong; for others, it seems like an impossible task. People who are  outgoing, friendly, gregarious--a high Influence communication style--often need guidance in planning and organizing.

When I began working with Lora, she was already a star performer in sales, but her home office was filled waist high with papers and brochures. The physical clutter distracted her and slowed her down; it was costing her time as she tried to find things. She needed to make a change in organizing her space to create more efficient use of her time.

To help Lora create gain more control over her space and time, I kept her focused on 3 principles for staying organized:

Step 1: Keep only what you love and use. Go through your possessions one by one. If you can’t say, “I love that!” then donate or discard it. If you’re keeping something for sentimental reasons, take a picture of it and then let the object go. If you feel overwhelmed by too much stuff, begin in one area and set a timer for 15 minutes. Take a short break and then come back and start where you left off.

Step 2: Group like things together and have a place for everything. Have a specific place for pens, tape, scissors, financial files, for books to read and for books you’ve already read. On my laptop I have a place for my schedule, client folders, budget files, and every other chunk of my business and life.  I organize emails so my inbox only contains emails I have not yet read. Once I read an email,  I move it into an appropriate folder (for example: Waiting For, Action Required, or a topical or client folder.)  

Steps 3:  Keep everything in its place and have a system to return things to their place.  Think about your kitchen.  You have a place for your glasses and plates.  When you use them, you put them in the dishwasher, and then you return them to their place. You know where everything is, right? You can go from organization to chaos to organization quickly in the kitchen because you have a place for everything and you return items. You can apply the same process to your paper, time and space.

Once Lora created systems for keeping herself organized, she felt better about herself.

“When you keep only what you love and will use, it is much easier to make decisions. I feel so much better about myself and my own ability to change the things I do not want in my life.”   She added, “This is a new way of thinking for me that is impacting other areas of my life too.”  

Organization doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a process, a shift in your way of thinking.  You have small wins when you learn to keep a drawer, your email inbox, or a room organized.  Not only that, you build your self-regulation ability, which is a key competency for leadership roles.  

Need more guidance in creating systems for success? Read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I highly recommend this book for two reasons.  First, Allen shows you a system for planning and organizing that works anywhere you go. Second, once you use the system faithfully your life will be transformed – more peaceful. You will be able to relax when you want to relax because you know that the things that need to be done will be done.

Stop drowning in clutter! The sooner you get organized, the sooner you’ll experience more time, less stress and a better life!