Start 2012 Off Right With a Fresh Start at Work

When it came time to make your New Year’s resolutions, did you consider your work life? Do you feel like you could use a fresh start? At the risk of sounding like your mother, getting organized at work is a great way to start. And here are 3 quick and easy ways to do it.

1. Your desk is where you spend the majority of your day, so you should create an environment that’s calm, practical and enjoyable. Although having a cluttered desk gives the illusion that you’re busy and productive, you probably waste a lot of time looking for stuff. Clutter can also cause a lot of unconscious—or conscious!—stress. Put a little bit of thought and effort into making your desk a pleasant place to be:

  • Simplify. Clear off anything you don’t use multiple times a day, including papers, files, a stapler or extra pens. Put these things in a drawer or tray UNDER the desk. It’s not a big deal to pull open a drawer to get something you don’t use all the time. The key here is to keep the top of your desk as clean as possible, and this will help clear your mind.
  • Hide your wires. Bundle them together and let them hang behind the desk and out of sight.
  • Consolidate. Get rid of the Post-It notes on your monitor and the scattered papers that are everywhere. Put a corkboard or dry erase board on a wall, and transfer your Post-Its and other random information there.
  • Go green. Plants help add color and life to your space. Buy a small indoor plant that’s easy to maintain for your office or cubicle.
  • Personalize. Add a picture or two of friends or family, or a photo or other souvenir from a memorable trip. But keep it to a minimum—no more than 1 or 2.
  •  Think themes. If possible, when choosing necessary items for your desk, go with a common color, material or style. Whether your style is dark wood, brushed metal, glass, white plastic, bright red or whatever, try to keep it consistent.

2. Now that you’ve decluttered your desk, how about your computer? Do you have multiple files and folders that need to be put in their proper place? And what about your email Inbox? Even though email is probably the most valuable tool you use daily, it’s probably the most disorganized. What can you do about it?

  • If there are messages from 2011 in your box that you haven’t read already, either delete them or archive them. If you haven’t read them yet, you’re never going to.
  •  The more emails that stack up, the more stressed you can get. If you notice an email chain getting longer and longer, cut it off and continue the conversation with participants via a meeting or a phone call.
  • Spend an hour and set up email filters to get rid of messages from certain companies or ones that match certain subjects. Learn what’s junking up your Inbox, create filters and mark all unnecessary files for deletion or archive.
  • There’s no reason to take a bunch of leftovers from 2011 into the new year, so give yourself the gift of a clean Inbox.

3. Last, try to live by the twenty-minute rule. You can do anything for 20 minutes. If you’re feeling stuck on a project or worried about a deadline, give it twenty minutes. Then get up from your desk and walk around, or just switch to a different task for a few minutes. Breaking everything into small, manageable chunks of time can make any task seem less daunting. And don’t forget to give yourself 20 minutes at the end of the day to make sure your desktop, computer and Inbox are cleaned up and organized!

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