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3 Steps to Maximize Work Space Productivity


Desks can be such a headache!

Especially if you are a creative individual who is thinking up several new ideas everyday!

Somehow the thought of stacking ‘stuff’ in neat, orderly piles seems so unappealing.

And most importantly, once you dive into those piles to retrieve something, they are all over the place. AGAIN!

But a Messy Desk is a Big Problem!

The researchers at Princeton University have found conclusive evidence that a cluttered desk makes workers more irritable and less productive.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an entrepreneur running a thriving business…

… or a C Suite executive managing multiple teams or indeed a trainee trying to make the most of your time and effort – a desk overflowing with files and papers is going to come in the way of your success.

Let’s Define a Neat Desk:

Most people shy away from organizing their workspace because they think they need to get it looking like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Neat vase. A huge Mac computer. A couple of fancy pen stands. And nothing else.

But a neat desk is not necessarily an empty desk.

It is a desk where:

  • All the items are divided into two categories – Stuff that is supposed to stay at the desk permanently and in-transit items that have to be processed and stored (or disposed off) accordingly
  • Only items that are currently useful to your work and will stay so in the foreseeable future find place.

Your work station can be busy! It can be chaotic to an outsider.

But it should save you time by letting you find what you want, when you want it and by not nagging you with open loops that keep screaming, ‘Yes, I am a bill and I am still here. Staring at you. You haven’t done anything about me. And I will sit here till the time to pay up is gone and you have to put in a fine.’

Three Steps to Maximizing Workspace Productivity:

Yes, that is all it takes. Three steps. So listen up and follow along.

  • First and foremost understand that your desk is a place to get work done. So anything that doesn’t pertain to your office tasks needs to be stored somewhere else. Ideally a work station should have only the following on a permanent basis:

–   In Basket
–   Work in Progress Basket
–   Out Basket
–   Computer
–   Printer
–   Clock
–   Phone
–   Tools to capture your thoughts and ideas. Have at least two.
So a moleskine and a ring binder may be your preference
–   File Holder
–   Personal supplies and stationery (so stapler, cissors, markers,
batteries and more)
–   Some decorations (if you so choose)

Scan your space right now! See anything that doesn’t fall under these categories? Keep it aside and take it home in the evening.

  • Now let’s turn your attention to the in-transit items. To successfully process these, you must:

–   Capture them
–   Decide what action has to be taken on them
–   Act accordingly

To capture (or store) incoming ‘stuff’, you have to have a physical container (in tray) and its virtual counterpart (your email).

Until you find the time to decide what action is required on the items, they stay in the in-tray or the email inbox. If doing so takes longer than a day (for example you might be required to go through a legal contract in detail to clarify your next action) the corresponding file can be shifted to the ‘In Progress’ tray. Once stuff is fully evaluated, it is added to the Out Basket for disposal.

Do you have your trays ready and waiting? If not, arrange to buy them asap and set up your capturing and disposal system.

  • Finally, it is time to document the actions that you will take as a result of ‘processing’ your incoming items and commitments.

GTD® advocates the creation of Next Action lists for various settings and your @Office Next Action List and Calendar (to schedule in meetings and appointments) should be a part of your workspace.

As an example if an email results in you needing to create a presentation, you add it to your @Office Next Action List and consult this list frequently to get it knocked off.

Don’t let your desk come in the way of your productivity. Stay on top of a messy work station and every other aspect of your life with the simple practices of GTD.

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