Best Practice

Decluttering and Organizing Your Workspace Should Be as Easy as Shaking Off April Showers

When you look around your office or your home, do you ever feel you need to get organized and decluttered? Are you looking at paperwork you’ve had on your desk for days or items you’ve had sitting around your house for years and are not actively using?

It’s just like getting caught in a downpour, and all you want to do is shed your wet jacket or shake out your umbrella and let it dry. If only taking the steps of decluttering an office, a room or even a drawer were as easy as drying off after a rain shower, our surroundings would be a bit more organized.

We’ve all had those moments when we walk into an office and see mounds of folders. The vehicle we use for work is full of samples from recent visits with customers or vendors. We open a bedroom drawer and shudder, or we can’t open a child’s closet because there are too many games or toys stuffed into it.

How do we finally get control and make decluttering as easy as taking off a soaking blazer? Let’s attempt to tackle these tasks and bring orderly fashion into our daily routine. Here are some tips I’ve developed over the years:

1. End the day with a clean workspace. Think back to how you feel when you walk into an accountant’s or physician’s office and you can’t see the desk, the filing cabinets or sometimes even the floor. When I have my annual physical, I get nervous — not about the exam, but because of the meeting in my doctor’s office. Paperwork, files and samples are everywhere. I’ve always said under my breath, “Thank goodness there is no smoking allowed in here.”

How do you avoid this in your own workspace? Every day before you leave your office, set aside 30 minutes, no matter what, and file away your paperwork, tools and other items that clutter your workspace. I do not have my assistant do it because I know where everything needs to be placed.

If you can’t complete this task one day, have a drawer where unfiled paperwork gets placed, and make addressing that file your first task on your next day in the office. Always leave with a clear desk.

2. Get rid of things you don’t need. At work or at home, we have to take on those dreaded drawers or cabinets from time to time. If you just pick two tasks a month to organize, that will be a start.

Sometimes a task will need planning and support, like when you want to clean out your stockroom at work or a garage or shed at your home. You might need special tools, shelves, a removal vehicle or a paper shredding company to get it done.

But most tasks don’t need a major effort — just a commitment and a small block of time. My rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it or worn it for a year, then donate it, give it away or completely discard the item.

3. Pick 10 major items a year to donate. My baby sister has a daughter who just turned 11, and she has a brother who’s 24 and a sister who’s 23. She is showered with many games and toys.

When she turned 7, her mom asked her to pick out 10 items to give away and then they would take them together to a charity to donate to people who are less fortunate. This year, Addison was able to pick the place where she wanted to donate her 10 stuffed animals and games. She picked Haven of Grace, a home for battered women where one of her favorite aunts, my sister Rochelle, volunteers in St. Louis.

Now you know why I saved this for last. In addition to clearing out clutter, this task has the bonus benefit of helping promote the spirit of understanding, appreciation and giving. Plus, now my niece’s closet door will open. You can make this work in your office, too.

As we head into a season of April showers that will bring May flowers, what a perfect time to have a fresh, organized approach before we get to those bright, long, sticky days of summer. I would love to hear from you about how you’ve mastered these tasks.

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About the author

Romaine Seguin

Romaine Seguin is president of UPS Global Freight Forwarding, based in Atlanta. She can be reached at rseguin@ups.com.

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