Week 10 – Desk Management – Celebrate an Organized Workspace (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar Writes About Organize Your Desk Day – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 15, 2010

By Clare Kumar

In a study commissioned by Professional Organizers in Canada, 7 in 10 Canadians who work say their workplace is disorganized, and disorganized Canadians report feelings of stress, frustration, and failure.

Organize Your Desk Day, a yearly event on the third Thursday of Small Business Week, brings focus to the need for order in the workplace to indeed boost productivity, but also to improve disorganized Canadians’ peace of mind.

If you’ve been reading along over the past 10 weeks as we have journeyed the path to greater order, you’ll be celebrating an organized desk right now or be well on your way. Congratulations! Please feel free to share your story on http://www.facebook.com/organizeyourdeskday. If not, I invite you to read through the previous posts to begin to create order in your workspace.

A messy desk may be the most obvious sign of disorganization; it is, however, not the only indication. If you notice any of the following signs of disorganization, consider sharing what you have learned or passing along this series of articles to encourage others to become more organized and more productive. Disorganization not only affects the individual’s work, it affects others – both colleagues and customers.

In addition to a messy desk, the following are signs of a disorganized approach to work:

1. Losing time hunting for misplaced items
2. Being late or missing appointments
3. Missing deliverables or submitting incomplete or unprofessional work
4. Not spending time on the most important tasks
5. Suffering a work-related repetitive strain injury

The impact of a disorganized approach to work includes:

1. Lower overall productivity and/or working longer hours
2. Lack of credibility within the company and with customers
3. Job dissatisfaction and other negative feelings
4. Lack of career growth
5. Absenteeism from stress or injury

Getting organized is not about moving from procrastination to perfection. It is about being the most productive person you can be. A sense of achievement is indeed what drives many of us. There is research to suggest happy people are more productive people. I suggest the reverse is also true – productive people are more satisfied people.

Now, what will you spend all that extra time on?

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

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Week 10 – Desk Management – Maintaining an Organized Workspace (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar Writes About Organization – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 14, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Now that your office is set up for success, is your organizing work done? Well, if nothing changed, maybe, but our lives are always changing – we all know change is the one thing we can count on. So, here are four tips to keep things organized no matter what comes your way.

1. Review regularly

Regular practices like committing junk mail to the recycling bin as soon as it arrives will help you achieve and maintain order. Scheduling daily organizing activities such as clearing your desk at the end of every day and planning your schedule the night before is also critical to sustaining an organized space.

Still, materials accumulate and become outdated, and over time we may relax our commitment to staying organized. Approach your workspace with a fresh perspective at least once per quarter to make sure systems that were effective previously continue as a foundation for your success. If not, tweak or redesign your organizing systems and storage requirements as necessary.

Go through your files and archived information and determine if you still need to keep them. If you have marked a “keep until” date on your files, this will be an easy exercise.

Certainly, if a storage system or your calendar becomes cluttered, don’t delay in creating time in your schedule to tackle the issue. Create a strategy and tactics to make short work of the organizing dilemma and put you back on the path to maximum productivity.

2. Adapt for new work

If your work or responsibilities change, use it as a cue to review the material you keep on hand. Cull or pass on what you no longer need. It’s a good time to let go of the old to make room for the new.

To take that thought one step further, if you’re stuck in your role and seeking a change, the physical act of creating space in your office can often make room for new opportunities.

3. Modify for new people

Not everyone thinks and works in the same way, so if you find a current system is no longer effective, review it to make sure it will work for the majority of users. This is especially true if your boss changes. Figure out the most effective way to communicate with your boss and you’ll be more productive in the end.

4. Think twice before allowing incoming

One of the easiest ways to keep things in order is to be judicious about what enters your workspace. So, before signing up for a new newsletter or subscription, before picking up another brochure, or even before sending an email, consider the impact on your limited resources – time, space and energy.

Coming up next in the series: Celebrate an organized workspace

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 10 – Desk Management – 6 Strategies for a Successful Home Office (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar Writes About Successful Home Office Spaces – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 13, 2010

By Clare Kumar

We’ve covered a wealth of material in this series which is applicable to any office, but working from home presents unique challenges. Numerous stats show productivity gains of 15% or more through working from home. Why is it then that some people can work successfully from home but others say they simply can’t? The foundation to work successfully from home comes with planning an effective workspace and developing appropriate work practices.

Here are six strategies you can implement to ensure productive work from home:

1. Pay as much attention to creating your home office as you would an office in a traditional work environment

Identify the tasks you need to accomplish and determine the work surfaces, storage, and tools you need to support those tasks. Invest in ergonomic equipment to keep you working safely – this includes among other things your chair, keyboard and mouse, keyboard tray, monitor stands and footrests. Be mindful that the least expensive office tools are not necessarily the best value if they don’t function the way you need them to, or you end up replacing them more often.

2. Set boundaries

It is important to create physical boundaries to preserve your ability to work in a focused manner. This may mean repurposing a room with a closed door to create a quiet environment.

If your work area is carved out from an area used by others, define times in which you cannot be disturbed. I work from a home office and if working on the weekend, I communicate to the family the period of time that I may disturb for “emergencies only”.

One hazard of working from home is the proximity of work compelling you to attend to it 24/7. Creating physical and time boundaries will help you keep your work and home commitments from encroaching upon each other.

3. Light it up

Lighting in home offices is often overlooked. Be realistic about the amount of time you will spend working in your office and your need for natural light. Take this into account when choosing where to place your workstation.

4. Create a schedule

It can be daunting to have a whole day in front of you without a clear schedule. Create a daily or weekly schedule around the different kinds of work you do –varying tasks within each day. Use a wall calendar or planner to keep your plan easy to refer to. This will help avoid distraction from at-home to-dos.

One of the benefits of working from home can be fitting in home tasks in short breaks throughout the day. If managed carefully you return to work refreshed and satisfied at getting a jump on dinner or laundry. Working from home allowed me to hang laundry outside all summer long, saving me money and better preserving my clothes!

5. Build community

One of the joys of working in an office in the sense of community that comes from working with others. To make sure you get social interaction schedule office visits (good for keeping in sight and therefore in mind) or appointments away from home at least 2-3 days every week.

6. Stay active

You’ll save commute time by working from home so invest at least part of this time in staying physically active. Find a gym nearby or an exercise companion and combine your social time with a healthy lifestyle. A quick trip to the gym at lunchtime will boost your energy and help you attack the afternoon with vigour.

Coming up next in the series: Maintaining an organized workspace

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Desk management – 5 steps on how to organize your desk (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar Writes About Organizing Your Desk Space – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 12, 2010

By Clare Kumar

We’ve covered the theory behind getting organized, but what about the practical side? How do you go from a cluttered to calm desk space? The following 5 steps show you how:

1. Commit

Set aside 30 minutes to tackle the re-organization of your desktop. Once space has been redefined, it will take much less time to clear at the end of each workday.

2. Clear

File any papers, folders or reference material. Recycle or shred any unimportant papers.

Set aside – perhaps in a bag or box – items to be returned to others, or taken home.

Use a box – perhaps the one copy paper is delivered in – and place in it all the remaining items from your desk.

3. Cull

As you place items in the box, edit your supplies. Get rid of pens and markers that don’t work or that you simply don’t like using. Throw out dried up glue sticks. Let go of the three jammed staplers that you think might work one day and replace them with one that does.

Keep only one each of basics such as tape or glue at your desk, and place backups in a supply cabinet.

Take a closer look at all the awards and office trinkets you have accumulated. It is alright to let them go if they are taking up valuable desk space.

If you like to keep photos in your office, consider mounting them on the wall, or changing to a digital photo frame to reduce their footprint.

4. Categorize

Sort the items into two groups – those which should remain with your desk and those that can be placed elsewhere.

Store the items you use most often close at hand. The less often you use something, the more you can afford the time it takes to retrieve it. If you’re not sure what you’re using, place your supplies into a shoe box. Each time you use an item, retrieve it from the shoe box and put it back in your drawer. If after a week you haven’t used an item it may not need to be by the desk, in fact, you may not need it at all!

5. Repeat

Overhauling your desk area once in awhile is a good idea to pare down to your essential supplies. It will make it easier to clear your desk at the end of every day, enabling you to start each day with a sense of control.

If you have a clear desk policy for security reasons, it is critical to establish good habits so that files are in order when you need them rather than being stashed away quickly.

Coming up next in the series: Organizing the Home Office

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY; on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Desk management – 5 ways to control desk clutter (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar Writes About Desk Management – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 11, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Even with papers tidied and files put away, desktops can appear busy because of computers and the many peripherals and accessories we use. Here are 5 ways to reduce desktop disarray:

1. Wireless Peripherals

Use wireless computer accessories such as the keyboard and mouse to eliminate cords from the desktop.

Adopt a cordless phone with a headset to reduce the phone’s footprint, increase comfort during use and reduce cord clutter. It also frees both hands to use your keyboard and input notes directly to the computer.

2. USB Hubs

If you connect a number of devices such as a printer, scanner, camera, smartphone, or hard drive to your laptop, simplify the process by using a USB hub. A hub allows you to connect several USB cables into a central connector, and from there provides one connection to the computer. It’s much faster to unhook one connection and it also permits moving multiple cords away from your main workspace.

3. Cord Management

Speaking of cords, there are a number of products designed specifically to tame the tangle of electrical cords and USB cables. A simple way to manage, however, is to

a) Label each end of the cord or cable with its function (i.e. printer). The 6mm size label works perfectly on the side of USB connections and plugs.

b) Use twist ties to gather and secure any slack in the cable. Re-use the black twist ties that come with most electronics and you won’t even notice them.

c) Attach several cables together with Velcro® fasteners.

4. Screen Supports

Use a laptop stand to raise the screen to a more comfortable viewing height and reduce the amount of space it takes on your desk. Monitor stands with built-in storage make the desktop more efficient. Monitor’s arms provide the utmost flexibility by clamping to the edge of the desk and swinging right out of the way.

5. Drawer Organizers

To maximize the storage space in your desk drawers, use drawer organizers to segment the space based on the material you need to store. Purchase organizers designed for the purpose or fashion your own dividers from greeting card or other shallow boxes.

Coming up next in the series: 5 Steps on How to Organize Your Desk

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY; on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones.Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Desk management – 5 items that really belong at your desk (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar Writes About Desk Management – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 10, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Here we are, 8 weeks after beginning this series on organizing your workspace, finally talking about how to organize your desk. We have covered space planning, ergonomics, time management and information management before getting to the desk – the most used space.

Why? To have an uncluttered desk space that lets you focus on your work task by task, you need to have a place or a strategy to handle everything that might land there. Only then is it possible to clear your desk without causing chaos?

Take a look at your desk – you may see amongst the screens and wires an assortment of office supplies, papers, sticky notes, a snack or drink, files, calendars, a telephone, a lamp, and a planner for example. We have already reviewed how to store items that may accumulate on your desk while you work, but which of these really ought to be there?

The following 5 items are truly worthy of your desk real estate:

1. Task lighting and the telephone

Make space on your desk for task lighting – preferably on the opposite side of the hand you write with to avoid casting shadows across your writing. This is also the ideal place for a telephone, as it facilitates note-taking while you’re talking, and keeps the cord from interfering with your work.

2. Filing supplies

Keep the materials you use to label and file or store material close at hand – you’ll be more likely to put things away regularly and avoid a paper pile up. File folder labels and a fine marker work well to label file folders. Binders, hanging file dividers and magazine holders are best labeled with a thicker marker or a label maker for greater clarity.

3. Electronic Devices

You’ll want to keep your mobile phone accessible and likely charging while on your desk. Use stands or charging centres to keep devices close by and protected from spills. Keep cords and charging units for less often used devices in a nearby drawer or in a container within a cabinet or on a shelf.

4. Planner or notebook

Have a planner or notebook handy to jot down important numbers and phone conversations. This will prevent the loss of important information and reduce visual clutter. If you need to see notes to remember them, attach them to a board on the wall to keep desk space clear.

5. Basic office supplies

Keep handy only the writing instruments and office supplies you enjoy or are required to use at least weekly.

For other items, you’ll need to decide if the item really needs to be on the desktop based on how often you use them. If you use them frequently, find containers and desk accessories that fit both the items and space.

If desk space is limited or you need the full surface to complete your work, you’ll want to store office supplies in drawers, in containers in nearby cabinets or in a rolling drawer unit. Keep in mind a common cause of office clutter is inadequate or poorly used drawer space.

Coming up next in the series: Desk Management – 5 Ways to Control Desk Clutter

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY; on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones.Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

Week 8 – Information Management: Tips – Time Saving Tools (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)


Clare Kumar Writes About Managing Time – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 8, 2010

By Clare Kumar

New features have been designed into data storage supplies to make them easier to use and to save you time. Take a look at your data storage processes and especially for any that are repeated often, consider feature-rich quality tools for a smoother, more efficient experience.

Here are a few of my recent favourites:

Sheet Protectors

Perfect for preserving important papers, the average sheet protector opens at the top and can be somewhat fiddly to use when inserting documents. If you want fast and easy access and a clean look you’ll want to try the Wilson Jones EasySnap™ Sheet Protector for its two-sided opening and uncluttered appearance.

Easy to use Staplers and Hole Punches

If you often collate documents or prepare binders, consider the Swingline® Optima® 40 Reduced Effort Stapler and the Swingline® Optima® Low Force Punch, both designed for repeated use with less effort. The stapler requires 50% less effort than a traditional stapler and has the capacity for 40 sheets to easily accommodate a variety of projects. Comfort is increased through the thoughtful addition of a soft grip surface.

Index Tabs

Wilson Jones® View-Tab® Transparent Dividers make fast work of indexing a binder. Simply write the headings on the back cover sheet and view them through the clear tabs. There is no longer a need to create a label for each tab. Online customizable templates are also available online at http://www.wilsonjones.com.

Coming up next in the series: Desk Management

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.