07.19.20176 min read

How to Physically Organize Your Office and Small Business

Running a small business can be very hectic at times. Storing all of the information that you collect on a daily basis can be somewhat overwhelming. In order to help you run your small business more efficiently, you can eliminate some of the areas that can cause more stress or loss of focus. A messy office and/or desk can cause stress and potentially derail your job—you may lose important paperwork or contact information that you wrote on a sticky note and subsequently lost in the clutter.

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A 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that the strength of attention goes down when competing visual stimuli are introduced, i.e. clutter. Furthermore, the OfficeMax Workspace Organization Survey conducted by Kelton Research in January 2011 found that 53 percent of those surveyed admitted to thinking negatively of their coworkers with messy workspaces. And it’s not just how others view you—90 percent of respondents in the OfficeMax survey said that unorganized clutter at work or home has a negative effect on their life.

On the flip side, 71 percent said they felt accomplished when they organized their workspace.

Bottom line? An organized workspace not only will make you feel good but will also improve how others see you. It’s time to take charge and organize your office and small business with these simple steps.

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Declutter

The first step to take when setting up a new office is purging the things that aren’t necessary to your day-to-day work. The best way to do this is to start from scratch. Take everything you have on your desk and general workspace, and place it into a container or box. Now, as you work throughout the day and realize you need something from that container, place it back on your desk. Don’t worry about where you put it right now, we will go over workflow and how that plays a part in where items go.

There are certain items, like business cards, that can be thrown away entirely. As soon as you get a business card input the information and a note about the person either in a spreadsheet, your CRM, or your phone. Cutting paper will not only save you space, but it will also save you money. Stop printing everything and turn to services like Dropbox and Google Docs.

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Catch-all space

The next thing to do is set up a space in your office where all of the incoming items for your business should go. What kind of items do you receive daily? Documents can easily be stored and organized in a desktop file organizer. These usually have anywhere from three to five trays that you can use to prioritize or organize files into. One way to ensure that you don’t start to clutter your desk is by avoiding sticky note madness. This is when you write everything down on sticky notes and place them all over your desk. Try to put these items on your calendar or in task management software.

Clean desktop

Always keep your desktop as neat and clean as possible. Avoid weighing down the top of the desk with items that are, in essence, just clutter. Re-evaluate your belongings. Whether you choose to start from scratch or not, you need to evaluate what you actually need at your desk. It is also helpful to evaluate and clean your desk on a weekly basis. Set aside 10 minutes per week—maybe at the end of the day on Friday—to tidy up. If you keep it up, it will take no time at all.

At this stage, you should be putting a price tag on everything you are choosing to keep. The price you put on these items is not the financial cost to you, but rather the value to your workday and time. Does this item you place on your desk provide value? Does it take time away or add time to your work day?

Also, consider any duplicate items. Yes, you need more than one pen, but do you really need the second stapler? If you keep books on your desk consider if they help you in your daily work. If not, take them home or consider the e-book version if available.

Workflow

Lastly, focus on setup for your daily workflow. If you start your day checking invoices or reviewing submitted documents in a paper tray, try to set up your desk with a left-to-right workflow. This means everything incoming starts on the left and goes out on the right. Try to keep in mind as you build your workflow where your trouble spots might be.

Are you running into a road block where something doesn’t feel right? Do you feel that you are always looking for office items that you know you have a lot of, but can’t ever find them? Get yourself a desk organizer that holds pens and notepads so you don’t lose them and make sure it’s easily accessible.

Desk management

You might not always feel like your desk is complete or well organized. The last few tips that I have for you can help resolve those feelings. Is the desk you are using big enough for the work you are doing? Sometimes you are using a hand-me-down or a desk bought at a discounted price that might not be the right size for you. Always take the time to look at how big the desk is that you are using, and see if you need more space.

Cable management is the last thing we should talk about. Cable management is a super easy way to improve the organizational feel of your workspace. You can clean everything up with some simple zip ties, and—if need be—get even more elaborate with under-desk cable trays.

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Curtis Miller has been working in software development as a quality engineer since 2010. Curtis enjoys collecting and reading comics books as well as playing video games and watching sports. He loves spending time with his family, wife, and daughter, whether they are playing board games at home or on vacation at Disneyland.

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