Money & Career

How to get a cute and tidy cubicle

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

How to get a cute and tidy cubicle

Click here to view before and after images of Natalie's office makeover.

As a writer and editor, staying on top of paper -- from press kits to invitations to magazines -- has always been a challenge for me. In fact, calling my workspace a disorderly disaster would be kind. My home is a clutter-free, soothing sanctuary. There's not a thing out of place -- so how did my office turn into such a nightmare?

Why organizing is important

"Studies have shown that a disorganized person spends upwards of 20 per cent of their workday looking for things," says Estelle Gee, a professional organizer and director with home management service Orderly Lives. "That's a tremendous loss of productivity. When you consider how much lost productivity there is in a day, because you can't retrieve what's important to you to do your job, hiring a professional organizer is an investment, not only in your peace of mind but in your efficiency."

The most obvious problem with my workspace, says Gee, was that I didn't have a built-in infrastructure. "You had storage, but it wasn't being utilized to its optimum capacity," she explains. "When you have a small space, you have to look at each individual component of that space as prime real estate. You don't have the space to spare, to waste it on things that are unnecessary."

But everything seems necessary. I hate throwing things out at the office for fear that I may need them someday. That said, if I really wanted to clean up the mess, I was going to have to adjust my thinking and follow Gee's four-step system to help get things in order.

Step 1: Purge
"Rid the space of anything that doesn't belong, that isn't necessary, that you've outgrown or that you don't need," says Gee. The purging process in my space was ruthless. If I hadn't looked at it in three months, it went into the garbage.



All organizing products, courtesy of Indigo. For more information or to buy online, visit indigo.ca


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Click here to view before and after images of Natalie's office makeover.

Step 2: Create a workflow system
"Look at the way you're working," advises Gee. "What kind of information comes in? What do you need to hold on to? How do you need to deal with it? And finally, how can you eliminate it?" Asking yourself these questions, she explains, will help you to create a workflow system. Referring specifically to my office overhaul, Gee explains that's why she used pretty vertical sorters from Indigo on my desk. "You're a visual person," she says. "That means that the categories and the regular projects that you're working on have to be very visible, right in front of you."

Step 3: Get the right tools
The tools you need will depend on your line of work, but whatever you do, create an infrastructure that works for you and addresses your daily needs. "The biggest mistake people make is to buy the storage or organizing tools before they think through what their needs really are," says Gee. "Once you've analyzed what you need in your workspace, then start thinking about what kind of storage you need." Some suggestions include storage drawers and multimedia boxes, which offer stylish and serviceable storage for loose papers and letterhead. The storage boxes can also serve as in-and-out trays. Vertical sorters, desk trays and file-folder holders are also useful tools for keeping papers organized and easily accessible.

Step 4: Create a filing system
Again, the system you need to put in place will depend on the kind of work you do. But once you've established a viable filing strategy, be sure to label and categorize things appropriately. For example, Gee insisted that I label every file folder and mark boxes with tags reading "letterhead," "press kits," "magazines," "CD-ROMs," etc. Now, there's a clearly labelled home for everything that comes across my desk.

With Gee's help, my office is not only bright and inviting, but unbelievably efficient, too. I find that I work smarter, not harder, and the rewards are worth the effort involved. I can't imagine returning to the disorderly disaster that was once my office space -- here's hoping!



All organizing products, courtesy of Indigo. For more information or to buy online, visit indigo.ca


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