Work can be stressful but we can make it less so by following a few steps to keep our offices organized.

Set aside 10 minutes each morning to prioritize your day and update your project list to give you an overview of what needs to be accomplished.

Next, subdivide larger projects into smaller tasks. One large project on your list can be daunting because it will remain there for a long time, making you feel like you have not accomplished a thing. By breaking it into smaller tasks, you will be able to see your progress as you cross off the component items. Also, if you complete tasks that weren’t planned, add them to your list, then cross them off. Later, you will be able to see how your time was spent during the day and what kept you from your original tasks.

Schedule some time for yourself daily. Depending on your list, set aside 30 minutes or more to accomplish one task or several smaller, but related tasks. Your agenda might include: ‘1p-1:30p Return phone calls;’ or ‘9a-10a Reconcile invoices.’ Having a schedule and using your software’s reminders will make you more apt to complete your tasks on time. Also, people who look at your calendar will see that you are busy and will be less likely to arrange meetings for these times.

Keep interruptions to a minimum. If you have a door to your office, close it when you need to get things done so your co–workers will be less likely to interrupt. When the phone rings, consider having your answering machine take a message, especially when you are making strides on another important project.

Is your workspace working for you? Keep what you use most within arm’s reach including phone, current project or client files, binders, resource books, pens, paper, printer, computer and project list. One client counted more than 40 trips each day from her desk to the filing cabinet – the obvious solution was to move it within arm’s reach of her desk. Every minute of time you save will help to accomplish your tasks. In addition, a few family photos and plants are fine to have on your desk. But too many pictures, vendor items and personal effects take up valuable work space.

According to a survey by JOGEAR, a computer company in Irvine, California, 78% of business professionals said their impressions of their colleagues were influenced by the way the colleagues’ desks were organized. Seventy percent of these professionals believed that workers with messy desks were less career-driven than their fastidious counterparts.

Colored folders are a great way to differentiate between projects and clients. I used this method when I was a media buyer for Goodyear. It was a breeze to pick out my Cleveland folder (red, Great Lakes region) from my Dallas folder (yellow, Southern region).

Did you know approximately 80% of what we file is never referenced again? Take the time once a week to go thru files. Pitch and shred unneeded papers. If-employed, check with your Human Resource Department to see what your company’s file retention policy is and if your old files can be stored off-site.

Finally, take a break. One of my favorite stories is about two lumberjacks who were competing in a tree cutting contest. At the end of the day, the small lumberjack cut down more trees than the big lumberjack. When the big one asked the smaller one how he did it, the little lumberjack said, “Simple. While you worked thru lunch, I took a break to sharpen my ax.”

Author's Bio: 

Wendy M. Salmon is a professional organizer and owner of Find It Fast Organizing Service, LLC, which offers business and residential de-cluttering and organizing expertise. She is a member of NAPO - the National Association of Professional Organizers, the Better Business Bureau of Western New York and the Rochester Women's Network.