Save Time By Getting Organized

This is the second in my series of time management tips to help you work more efficiently in your business. Here are the others.


declutter-paperTake it from one who knows… there's nothing more demotivating than working amidst clutter. Why spend time hunting through piles of paper for some vital piece of info, when with a bit of planning and organisation you can have everything at your fingertips. I'm not too bad on this one… my son says that while my office looks cluttered, he's pretty confident that I can find any piece of paper or computer file within 20 seconds 🙂 But that clutter can get too much, and every so often – and this afternoon was actually one of those times – I have a good old clear up, and I feel so much better for it.

Time To Clear The Clutter

desk-px_250If it has been a while since the top of your desk looked like this, it's time to clear the clutter. Note to self: The floor is NOT an acceptable substitute! How long it takes to clean it will depend on the size of your desk, how much time has passed since your last cleaning and just how high that paper mountain was allowed to grow.

Getting Organized

Here are six easy steps to help keep your desk organized:

1. Construct a filing system.

Throw out old magazines, newspapers, brochures, postcards and outdated catalogs. The only items to keep are current projects, important documents and up-to-date reference materials.

2. Establish a color system.

Use colors to separate your files such as green for customers, blue for vendor accounts and orange for important documents. The color change is much better on the eyes and has a greater distinction when you are searching for a particular folder item.

3. Use dividers and other organizing products.

folders-px_250Store previous years of paperwork into plastic containers. Shopping outlets such as Office Max or Staples carry them for just a few dollars each. The file boxes stack as a nice space-saving feature and will help protect important documents. Use multiple colors on the container lids to coordinate with your colored filing system to make recovery time much quicker and easier.

  • Store office supplies (pens, pencils, erasers, ruler, etc.) inside a desk drawer.
  • Separate your tools with a divider tray to keep them organized. If your desk doesn't have any drawers, purchase a caddy organizer that you can place on top of your desk or a nearby credenza. This will help keep office supplies organized and easier to find when you need them.
  • Acquire stacking paper bins and place them underneath the printer to help divide cover sheets, letterhead, single sheets and purchase orders.
  • Set up an IN basket for your incoming projects and an OUT basket for outgoing projects. Try to be as efficient as possible and empty each basket by the end of the workday. If your desk is limited for space, purchase a group of plastic wall pockets and mount them nearby for easy access.
  • Stash smaller file cabinets underneath tables. This provides more room inside the office and helps make the area look spacious.
  • For those work-at-home entrepreneurs with limited room, this is a great way to utilize space.

4. Cut the paperwork

rubbish-mfDo you NEED to keep all those papers? Computer storage and cloud backups are very cheap these days. Consider scanning your papers and then shredding them. Whatever you choose to do with your paperwork, aim to handle each piece of paper just once. Either file it correctly straight away, scan and discard, or just discard. Some paperwork needs studying, but much of it can be handled very quickly.

5. Clean your workstation daily.

Get into the habit of cleaning your desk at the end of each workday. The following morning will be much more inviting with a clean desk. Schedule at least 20 minutes at the end of your workday to tidy up your work area and don't leave the office until you do.

6. Follow a routine.

Staying organized is much easier once you've established a system and strive to follow it as part of a daily routine. Allowing yourself to deviate from an organized approach will result in cluttered chaos and the inability to function at your optimum level. Establishing an organized system is essential to your success. Becoming organized saves you time, alleviates mistakes and increase productivity.

What are YOUR best time management tips? Please share in the comments below.

6 tips to save you time by getting organized

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Donna Merrill - May 16, 2016

Hi Joy,

I love to be organized. It starts with decluttering. There is nothing worse than walking into a room in my home and seeing papers all over the place. I actually get dizzy. I cannot tolerate it. My hubby can work that way but knows better so I sent him down the basement, gave him the largest room, desk and all. There he can clutter away. I cannot see it from the laundry room so I’m ok with it.

Call me Queen of the household, but in our office I cannot have things around. I need a serene place where I can create and get my stuff done.

I do have a routine and without it I would get nothing done. Blog post day where I publish, marketing time…every day, and so on. Plus at the end of the day, I de-clutter my computer. I’m one step away from OCD but that is a blessing. lol.


    Joy - May 26, 2016

    Hi Donna,

    Interesting that you and David have such different styles of working – but great that you worked out a compromise.

    I have to confess that – despite all the brave words in the article – my workspace is not very organised. I seem to spent an awful lot of time waiting for other people to send me “the next stage” in my work.

    I do so admire people, like yourself, who can stick to a routine. I know it must be much more productive than my current method.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Monna Ellithorpe - May 17, 2016

Hi Joy,

This came at a perfect time for me. In fact, I asked the question earlier; “Has anyone ever had the fleeting urge to just wipe your computer clean of EVERYTHING and start all over again? I’m spending more time looking for things than actually working. Grrrrr. I’m not going to do it but I am going to walk away for a while.

I’m not doing too bad with physical things around me, more with unorganized computer and I tried so hard to keep this one cleaned up.

One day I will get it cleaned up again.

Thanks again, Joy

    Joy - May 26, 2016

    Hi Monna,

    Hope your “walk away” helped. I have hit snags a couple of times this year alone that had me very close to wiping my blog completely. (The computer really would be the last thing to go, because of my paying clients.)

    Fortunately a break, such as you suggested, plus some technical help from very good blogging friends got me back “in the saddle”. Good luck with your own re-organisation.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Raphael Udonna - May 22, 2016

Hello Joy,

Indeed a cluttered desk is demotivating.

As often as possible, i try to de-clutter my desk, it really helps me focus better on work. I really do not like to discard paper work, but scanning into a system and shredding the paper itself is a totally bright idea, i’ll capitalize on that.

The idea of clearing a desk everyday before leaving work is a great one. Thanks for the tips.

Have a lovely week!

Edward Thorpe - May 29, 2016

Hi Joy,

Since my move from Florida, I no longer have a desk/work station to organize. My files are in the basement, books are shelved upstairs and my laptop flops where I do. (Hm, no wonder I’m not as productive as I once was? Food for thought.)

Anyway, this was a well-written & structured post that was both instructive and entertaining. Thanks,

    Joy - May 29, 2016

    Hi Edward,

    Interesting that you’ve noticed that without your desk and workstation you haven’t been as productive (although the quality of your posts is still excellent).

    I do appreciate the fact that I have a whole room dedicated to my work area. I don’t think I’d get anything done if I had to re-find everything each time I started and pack it all away when I “finished” (I never finish!!)

    Glad you found it interesting.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

3d walkthrough - June 9, 2016

As you work toward getting more organized, don’t be too hard on yourself. Organization takes work and time, but the payback is great. Instead of spending time looking for things, you can use that time to relax or do something else.

    Joy - June 9, 2016


    That’s a good point, I often beat myself up far more than I probably should, which can lead to just as much stress and being disorganized.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

Wallace - June 27, 2016

I agree on getting organised. After spending a full day organising all my files (online and hard copy) I realise that spending one day to get organised has freed up so much time for me to manage my site and I no longer have to look like a headless chicken looking for my stuff.

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