Appearances are Important

Your office and desk must seem organized. A messy office or a cluttered desk can not only impede your space and cramp your style, but also affect how your peers and superiors perceive you.

Clutter can drag you down, sap your energy, and reduce your efficiency. However, if clutter is your style, you should have every right to work the way you like to work.

A messy desk isn’t a professional flaw, but clutter may reflect of your competence. Untidiness can give an impression that your job may be too much for you to handle, or that you can’t get your thoughts and information organized.

How to Conquer Your Paperwork Crisis

As opposed to sorting through everything in your drawers, desktop, and filing systems, consider removing the whole lot somewhere else and only allowing the important things back.

  • 'The Organized Executive' by Stephanie Winston (ISBN 0446676969) Stephanie Winston, author of The Organized Executive, famously wrote that each clutter represents a decision not made. In this bestselling book, she recommends the “TRAF” system, a precursor to the “Inbox Zero” discipline that I’ve previously discussed on this blog. TRAF is an acronym for the four decisions you must make on each piece of paper that arrives at your desk. You can Toss it away, Refer or delegate it to someone else, Act on it, or File it if it absolutely deserves to be achieved. Don’t keep anything merely for reasons of habit or for sentimental reasons.
  • Don’t start tomorrow with today’s mess. Spending ten minutes at the end of your workday gearing your desk up for the next day can help you stay organized.

After you’ve taken steps to reorganize your office, sustain your system. Look for ways to further streamline and fine-tune your organization framework.

Idea for Impact: Don’t Let Clutter Spin Out of Control and Affect Other’s Perceptions

Taking too much time to organize can be just as ineffective—don’t end up spending so much time organizing that you don’t have the time to do anything else. (This is one of the shortcomings of David Allen’s Getting This Done system.) Learn to put things away as soon as you’re done working on them.

Being organized not only means less time wasted looking for things, but also rewards you with a greater sense of control and a favorable professional image.

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