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Organize: Five Ways to Reduce Clutter at Work

Time management is really attention management.

Allyson Lewis, 04/15/2010

You allow clutter into your life when you delay making a decision about what you should do with a specific project, file, task, and every piece of paper that crosses you desk.

Clutter is at the root of avoidance, procrastination, distraction and indecision. And, it stands squarely between you and the success you want to accomplish.

How big is the problem? A story in the Dec. 8, 2002, business section of The Wall Street Journal stated:
"The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information on messy desks and in files. Every lost piece of paper costs a business $120. In fact, 15 percent of all paper handled in businesses is lost and thirty percent of all employees' time is spent trying to find lost documents."

To organize your mind and your physical work space you need a plan of action. Like any goal that you are serious about accomplishing you need to create a written plan of action that you are willing to commit to accomplishing by a certain deadline.

One of the first problems in cleaning up the clutter is finding the time. There will never be any additional hours in the day, however--you might remind yourself how much time you are currently wasting looking for lost documents and files--six weeks a year is a lot of time to lose. Once you recognize how much more productive you will be in a clean work environment, you simply need to schedule a series of appointments on your calendar.

You are already setting written appointments in your calendar for activities you consider to be important. You schedule set times to meet with clients, go to doctor's appointments attend staff meetings and various social events. Pull out your calendar and schedule five blocks of time to organize your work area and get rid of the clutter in your life.

Here are five ways to reduce the clutter at your office:

1. Organize Your Desk
I recommend that you start with the clutter that you can see and make sure that you have a giant trash can available for this task. Research has shown that even the size of your trash can impacts what you are willing to throw away. The bigger the trash can the easier it is to use. The smaller the trash can, the more hesitant we become to throw things away. Psychologically you want to make it as simple as possible to make a decision to focus on tending to each item or be willing to chunk it.

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