The paperless office has been a dream of many organisations for some time now. Turning files into electronic files on the PC instead of keeping hard copies on the desk certainly makes for a tidier, cleaner workspace. A lack of towering paperwork also helps clear the mind, ready to focus instead on creative ideas and commercial plans. So, how do you streamline your office without taking away its personality, or rendering important documents and possessions impossible to reach?
Little and often
Every journey starts with a single step, and the process of decluttering an office can seem daunting if faced all at once. Instead, take it slowly, tackling one aspect at a time. Set up a timetable to help you focus your mind. For instance, you might start with your in-tray and folders on your desk. Decide what you really need to keep and what can be scanned onto the PC or simply thrown away. Be ruthless and don’t move on to the next area until you have completely finished the first. If you are not sure where to start, take some photos of your office to help you see things from a new perspective.
Start from scratch
Avoid confusing your mind by starting with a clean slate. Take everything out of the area you are working on and put it in a large box until you are left with a bare desk, cupboard or shelf. Return to your normal work. Over the next few days, every time you use an item, put it back in the area. You can take a week or two doing this, methodically working your way through everything, replacing only the things you know you need. Take the chance to give the area a good clean or dust before you begin replacing things.
Find your flow
Organising possessions helps give them greater meaning, and allows you to find them again more easily. So take a few moments to plan how you are going to rearrange your drawers and shelves. You might like to invest in some desk drawer dividers to keep similar items together – this works well with stationery. Sort books, magazines and other printed resources in alphabetical order by title or author and put paperwork that you are obliged to keep hold of in hanging folders organised by client or job type. Working in a more organised environment will help you focus your mind, schedule your day and regain joy in your achievements.
Tame your trouble spots
Many offices suffer from the same kind of clutter issues, so take time to work out solutions to your particular trouble-spots. Computer cables often end up in a jumbled mess, so look out for ties or tubes to keep them in place. Rain guttering can be surprisingly effective and cheap to install. Other problem zones include underneath the desk, where umbrellas, spare shoes and shopping bags can build up.
Once you have decluttered and streamlined your place of work, make sure it stays the way you want it to by remaining mindful of what you need to keep and what you can safely discard. Buy plenty of versatile storage too, to keep everything neat, tidy and clutter-free.