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In Pictures: 8 simple ways to increase your office productivity

If your workspace is disorganised, you could be losing productivity. These eight tips can help you keep it all together and get the most out of each hour of the day.

  • Do you spend more time looking for documents, supplies, emails or your mobile phone charger than you do working? If so, you’re losing valuable productivity. However, the good news is getting back on track requires only a little planning, commitment and consistency. These eight office organization tips culled from the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and Simplify Me Now can help you transform your workspace from stressful to serene, and help boost your productivity by making it easy to find files, documents, supplies, and keep up with ongoing projects and deadlines.

  • 1. Clean Out Your Workspace Let’s face it. If you're reading this, you're probably struggling to control the chaos that is your workspace. According to NAPO, a good first step is to get rid of the unnecessary stuff taking up your valuable office space. Go through those stacks of papers and get rid of duplicates. Clean out your desk drawers and filing cabinets and throw out (or recycle) anything you haven't used in six months. When you're left with only necessary items and have removed excess clutter, you can more easily organize what's left.

  • 2. Rearrange Your Office The next step is to evaluate the furniture layout in your newly purged space based on how you work. If you have to get up every time you need to throw something away or replace a file, your desktop and your floor can easily become your trash can/file storage, NAPO says. Arrange furniture, files, and trash receptacles so that they’re easy and quick to access.

  • 3. Get Your Desktop Organized Keep only supplies and gadgets you need on a daily basis on your desktop. Patty Kreamer, a professional organizer, says to think of it like your circles of friends. "Items you use most should be within reach – your friends.The items you use less often should be near, but you should have to get up to access them -- your acquaintances. The items you rarely useshould be out of your office altogether -- strangers," Kreamer says. Simplify Me Now suggests an inbox is for items you haven't reviewed, an in-process box for items you're working on, and a filing system or trash receptacles for the rest.

  • 4. Design a Personalized Filing System There's no right or wrong when it comes to developing a filing system, as long as it matches the way you work and is easily maintained. You can file alphabetically, by project, by client or some other method. Use the same method for electronic document filing as you do for paper. Regularly sort, file and purge electronic and hard copy documents to keep clutter from piling up. Keep the most recent documents at the front of the file for ready access, and make sure to check your company's records-retention policy to ensure you're not throwing out vital records.

  • 5. Master Time Management Clear at least an hour a day to focus on projects and action items. Kreamer suggests tracking your time for a week to get a better sense of how long certain tasks take before you begin scheduling this way. Breaking up large projects into smaller steps and scheduling time in the day for each can make short work of large assignments. The majority of people who do plan, plan only for meetings and appointments --not for the work to be done in between. "They create a to-do list and never plan to do it. Thus, the to-do list becomes an avoidance list," Kreamer says.

  • 6. Schedule Your Communications Schedule time on your to-do list each day to deal with emails and return phone calls. NAPO suggests once in the morning and once each afternoon for greater efficiency. "Set a timer for 10- or 15-minute increments and do little sprints to get things done. The most effective time is 15 minutes before you have to walk out the door for a meeting or appointment," Kreamer says. Write an agenda for each call so you don't forget important points, and, if you have to leave a message, outline the response you need so others can get you the information or action you need to complete your task.

  • 7. Organize Yourself Digitally Being electronically organized is as important as being physically organized. Create folders and subfolders in your inbox for each client and project, so when new emails arrive, you can quickly act on it. "Don’t allow things to stay in your Inbox unless they require action," Kreamer says. "Either delete it, forward it or file it." Finally, minimize distractions. "Turn off email notifications: the sound, envelope icon in the notification area, the mouse cursor change and especially the 'New Email' Desktop Alert that fades in and out," she says. "Since you've set up specific times to check and respond to email, you won't need them."

  • 8. Ritualize Your Work Day Organization isn't a one-and-done proposition; you must keep up with the influx of documents, files, projects and communications. When you're done working for the day, devote about 15 minutes to update your to-do list, file completed projects and replace in-progress items in their proper place. That makes for a clean, fresh, organized start when you arrive at work the next morning.

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