advantage of the somewhat slower pace of the end of July and August
to organize your office, which, experts say, will do more than just
give you a tidy workspace.
office can be a strategic move that can help bolster your career,
says Ann Searles, a productivity consultant with IBT
Caribbean-Canada, who helps executives organize their work lives.
"You need to get
physically organized and that includes dealing with email and cyber
data as well as paper. If you're organized in such a way that others
can see at a glance what's important to you, you can move where you
Searles and several other experts recommend you do when you tackle
the reorganization of your office this summer:
1. Step one is to
make a written list of your priorities and number them from 1 to 10
in order of their importance. Having a list will enable you to
decide what papers and electronic files to keep and which ones to
not on that list gets thrown away," Searles said. "If your priority
is sales and you want to drive your career in that direction, why
would you keep the minutes of meetings of the manufacturing
division, for instance? Anything in your office pertaining to
manufacturing should go. You keep the data that will drive you into
the sales field. This is a strategic move."
2. Be consistent
about how you name your files.
"People keep data
on hand-held devices, memory sticks, email, paper files and so on,"
Searles said. "Arrange it so that the information is labelled the
same way regardless of whether it's on paper or in electronic
3. Dispose of
anything you're keeping for sentimental reasons.
"Some people keep
everything from their old jobs," Searles said. "They tell me they
want to keep old documents in case people in their organizations
want to ask them anything. They become the company librarian instead
of a potential leader and wonder why they keep getting interrupted
all the time. You should cast off whatever is irrelevant."
4. Create files.
"Believe it or
not, some people have shoe boxes filled with papers," said Gayle
Fransham, a professional organizer with Orderesque. "They're the
people who can never find anything. They need to start a filing
system that enables them to retrieve the documents they want. I've
heard people say that they can't do this on their own. I say 'create
your own system.' "
5. Invest in a
paper shredder and shred personal papers that are no longer needed.
"Once you start
this process and realize what you're shredding," Fransham said,
"you'll say: 'I kept this paper?' "
6. Dispose of
anything in your office that no longer has a purpose.
books that are no longer relevant," said Fransham. "A lot of people
keep broken things, too. You should get rid of anything that's
7. Make your
"People think of
their office as a desk, chair and lamp. But you can make it your own
by, say, posting cork on a wall and covering it with information,"
8. Organize your
desk so that others can see, at a glance, what's important to you.
"Make files that
are easily accessible and in an order of importance," said Searles.
9. Get into the
habit of purging documents regularly.
flossing your teeth every day," Searles said.
that emptiness is good.
"If you have an
empty desktop, empty shelves or other empty space in your office,
that's fine," Searles said. "Emptiness gives you the illusion of
potential, of control and of creative leeway. Use emptiness to
encourage space for thinking.
"Whenever I work
with leaders, they always ask me for three things: time to think,
time to lead and time to connect with their people. They say their
day-to-day work claws away at that. Use the new emptiness in your
office to encourage space for thinking, for leading and for
11. Evaluate the
ergonomics of your workspace.
synonymous with productivity," said Bernie Shalinsky, an ergonomics
consultant with Ergon Consulting. "If your back, wrists and arms
hurt, you can't work at your capacity. Having an ergonomic
environment prevents cumulative trauma disorders."
Ensure that your
computer's keyboard is below desk level, just above your legs and
the centre of its monitor is at chin level."
Objects should be
easily accessible and at arm's length, he said.
12. Improve the
flow of energy through your office by applying the ancient Chinese
principles of feng shui.
clutter," said Tracey MacKenzie, a feng shui consultant and designer
with Feng Shui For All. "Things should be easy to find."
13. Situate your
desk in the feng shui "command" position.
position is one in which the desk faces the office door, allows you
to see out the window and has a wall behind your back," MacKenzie
14. Paint your
office a pleasing colour.
what you do for a living, you may need a soothing colour or a vivid
one that energizes you," MacKenzie said. "And you should put things
on the walls that are of value to you: awards you've won or pictures
of people you admire or wish to emulate, anything that's inspiring."
15. Don't use a
lack of time as an excuse for not organizing your office.
"Even if you
don't have time to do it, shift your mental talk to: 'I have chosen
not to make the time for this,' " Searles said. "It's called
opportunity cost. If I choose to go sailing, I have chosen not to
organize my office."
16. Start a
detailed calendar, whether it be on paper on in your computer.
deadlines and milestones in your calendar," Searles suggests. "Make
sure that the days leading up to a work deadline are open. You don't
plan anything for those days. That way, you're organizing yourself
around your priorities."
17. And finally,
reduce the number of icons on your computer's desktop.
"If you have a
whole lot of icons when you're in your 20s, it may be seen as cute.
If you still have them in your 30s, your employer may wonder if you
can see the forest for all those trees," Searles said. "And if you
still have them when you're in your 40s, you're just going to look
really disorganized and all that icon clutter will make you look