5 Steps to Organize and Boost Productivity

In my last post, we talked about the cost of the collection of clutter at work. Why bother to organize your workspace? The typical executive loses 150 hours a year (almost an entire month), searching for lost information. 

Imagine getting 150 hours back.

What would happen to your productivity? As I move through my own decluttering process, I’ve learned some great strategies that I’d like to share.

1  Organization is as Important as That Big Client Meetingproductivity
No, don’t skip that sales call, but do schedule and hold to any time you set aside to get organized. I used to use the last two hours of Friday afternoon to ensure my desk was straightened and my priority work was scheduled. My head was clearer. I jumped back into priority work instead of wondering what that pile on my desk meant. I’m going back to that practice.

2 Set a Timer
If it seems overwhelming, turn off all distractions and commit to a specific amount of time and space. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 30 minutes. A drawer. A box. A pile of files.

3  Peter Walsh‘s Desk Adviceproductivity
The only thing that should be on your desk within arm’s reach is what you are immediately using. Here’s what organizing guru Peter Walsh said about productivity and clutter while talking to O Magazine staff, “Your desk should be like the driver’s seat of a car: only crucial items within arm’s reach. Most people need a computer, a phone, pens, paper, maybe a printer below. That’s it.”

4  Processes Keep It Organized
Here’s one example. I have a folder for the email newsletter signup forms from workshops. That way we can pop the forms into the file as we unpack from each workshop. My assistant knows to update it weekly.

productivity5  Ask for Help
It’s funny how good I am at helping others get processes in place and set standards in training, but I was going blank on all of the processes I needed to organize my workflow. Hubby signed on to reduce my stress level by doing an early sorting of piles and some shredding, and I have a colleague who is an organizational machine that I’ve hired to put more simple processes in place.

I also found It’s All Too Much from Peter Walsh  a great resource too for organizing and tossing. I’m also looking forward to reading his new book Let It Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life.

How are you starting to declutter and boost your productivity this week? How will you share your strategies with your team so they can work more efficiently too?


Catherine Doucette MEd, CTDP delivers customized business communications and leadership programs with measurable results. Topics include management issues, communication styles, difficult conversations, presentation skills, mentoring, productivity, managing conflict, business writing, and more.


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