Organize Your Work Space

If things on your desk keep getting lost or misplaced, it's time to organize your work area more efficiently to optimize your efforts.

Today's workplace environments run a gamut of options. From a multi-level 20-foot work station to a notebook computer perched on your lap, work space needs to be efficiently organized to save time and help you get things done.

Because work spaces are so varied, let's assume for the purposes of this article that you have a traditional desk and a desktop computer. Now let's see what you can add and arrange to make this space more productive.

1. Office chair. Don't even bother with a straight leg chair, a stool, or other unorthodox seating. Buy a regular swivel chair with wheels and a plastic mat so it can roll smoothly from one part of the desk to another. A flexible, mobile chair is better for accommodating the human frame, as well, and can help you avoid back, leg, or posture problems.

2. Lighting. Be sure you have adequate light for illuminating your work space. A wall light, floor lamp, or desk lamp can provide good visibility, as can a nearby window with shades for bright, sunny days. Use adjustable lighting for day and evening work to avoid eye strain.

3. Desk drawers. Store important or frequently used items in your right-hand drawer. Marking pencils, pens, address books, paper clips, or other routine office supplies should be kept in a handy place. You are the best judge of what will be needed most often, so arrange your supplies accordingly. In the left-hand drawer you can place important files (using a Pendaflex or similar system), receipts, or other documents. Or use this space for more office supplies, such as a stapler, storage disks, and reference resources like a dictionary, telephone directory, or a thesaurus.

4. Desk surface. In addition to your computer monitor and keyboard, you may need a place for a printer unless you have an adjoining spot with room for documents to print out without falling to the floor. On the desk, then, you also may want a calendar for marking upcoming events and due dates, a rolodex of frequent contacts, and everyday disks or CDs used in your work. A telephone may need its own space unless, again, you have another nearby area for easy reaching. An inbox or outbox is handy for tasks that need to be done or are completed. You also may want a place for messages, job lists, or needed supplies. Finally, a coffee cup adds a personal and supportive touch.

5. Surrounding space. Depending on the size of your surrounding area, you may want to add a bookshelf for work-related information or reference, and a file cabinet for storage. Consider adding a storage cabinet for paper, envelopes, and manila file folders, along with other office supplies. A cash box will be helpful, with a ledger, for tracking job-related expenses.

If your space is too limited to include all of these items, omit what you feel you can do without for now, until your office expands. Arranging your work area will give you a greater sense of control along with more freedom to get things done. So don't wait--get started today!

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