By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group
Most in-house creatives have a little leeway when it comes to arranging their workspace – whether it’s displaying wall art or keeping a shelf of doodads nearby for instant inspiration. But this is no excuse to create “artistic chaos” in the office. While it’s easy for papers to pile up and clutter to accumulate, maintaining a well-organized workspace should rank high on your list of priorities.
Working in a messy environment can decrease your efficiency and elevate your stress level – and even cause colleagues to question your professionalism. That said, here are four quick tasks to help you get organized –perfect additions to your spring cleaning checklist:
1. Start with a clean slate. Carefully clear off your desk, file cabinets and bookshelves – and create small piles of documents that you can easily sort through. Then, dust and wipe clean areas that haven’t seen the light of day in weeks (or longer).
2. Learn to let go. As you review old memos, creative briefs, paper samples and proofs, ask yourself if you really need each item. Be honest in your assessment; if you haven’t used or referred back to something in more than six months – or if you forgot about it entirely – recycle or trash it. If you have documents, like industry publications or software manuals, that you think others on your team might find useful, create a “Free” bin for others to peruse (hopefully you won’t be adding to their clutter!).
3. Rank and file. Once you’ve decided what to keep, create a system to organize information. Perhaps you create folders for each of the different projects you are currently working on and file any pertinent materials in each one. Be specific when labeling your files; those tagged as “miscellaneous” or “other” can easily lead to misplacement of important documents. Once each project is complete, archive the folder to make room for new ones.
4. Cull your computer files. As you straighten out your physical workspace, also take the time to clean up your computer desktop. A screen filled with random icons creates a sense of visual chaos that can be distracting. Delete all unnecessary files and archive those that you won’t need to access anytime soon. Once you’ve organized this area, do the same for your e-mail inbox.
After getting organized, do your best to keep things under control – that way, you won’t have to undergo a deep cleansing anytime soon. A little time spent organizing now will transform your workspace into one that helps – not hinders – your ability to perform your duties quickly and effectively.
Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at creativegroup.com.