Organizing Your Desk for Optimum Efficiency.

By | Mar 24, 2008

While I am not a stickler for a neat desk (anyone who works with me will tell you that my desk is not the epitomy of neatness), a certain amount of organization is necessary in our field. We generally have so many daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, not to mention special projects going on, that we must know where everything is located in order to make the best use of our time.

When planning how best to organize your files and folders, always think about what tasks you perform and how often you perform them. Keep the items you need frequently close at hand, and keep those items not needed frequently in the further away drawers and file cabinets. Saving time looking for and/or retrieving needed materials is time you can spend on performing the task at hand.

On my desk, I have a folder riser where I keep folders for my daily tasks and any special project that I am currently working on. For instance, two of my daily duties are running background checks and processing donations. As I receive items for these tasks, I put them in the appropriate folder so I can process all of them at the same time once a day. My time is better managed doing all of the same tasks at once rather than starting and stopping other projects all day to process them as they come in. I set task reminders in Outlook to remind me of my recurring tasks.

Items I work with frequently but not necessarily daily go in my desk file drawer, so they are close to hand but not out on my desk and in my way as I work. These include forms for various tasks and files for vendors that I deal with frequently.

Items that I deal with once a month or less are kept in my file cabinets at the back of my office. Since I have to get up to pull files from these cabinets, nothing I work with frequently is kept there. This is also where I keep files for finished tasks, such as my current fiscal year donation files. At the end of each year, those files are boxed up and sent to archives to make room for the coming year’s files.

Of course, any file that can be kept electronically, is kept so. I keep as many files as possible on my network drive so I can access them from any computer connected to the network. That way, even if I’m working at someone else’s desk for some reason, I still have access to many of my files, minimizing trips back and forth to my desk.

Every administrative assistant has her own way of organizing their workspace. What’s important is to find the way that best suits you and your own work style. Just remember, though, don’t spend so much time keeping organized that you take time away from your actual duties.

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6 Comments so far
  1. ronnie (2 comments) March 24, 2008 11:56 am

    I agree with you there Jodith.In fact, sometimes I am regarded a ‘stiff’ boss whenever I demand that things in the office should be organized and neat -always.  I guess it is something I got from the Japanese’s 5S concept of productivity.Being organize at work brings with it a sense of wellness, and you are more likely encourage to be more productive.Great post here! Cheers!

    ronnie’s last blog post..Always strive to excel, but only on weekends

  2. Jodith (189 comments) March 25, 2008 6:07 am

    Thanks for the comment, Ronnie.  Although, you’ll notice I’m talking about organized versus neat.

    There’s a good article on Desk Demon talking about the difference in organized and neat.  Check out Five Reasons Why a Messy Desk Is a Good Thing.

    My desk is not the neatest, but it is organized.  I know where everything is, and the one thing that makes me crazy is for someone to come in and move things on my desk.  I’ll spend an hour figuring out where everything is again. 

    If I could give one piece of advice to bosses out there, it’s not to mix-up neatness with organization.  I worked with one admin who’s desk was always immaculate.  That’s because she dumped everything into random files in her desk and could never lay her hands on anything when you needed it.  My desk is more messy, but I can usually put anything in your hands within seconds.

  3. MarkH (4 comments) March 26, 2008 5:19 pm

    Another good thing about keeping your files on the network drive is that the system administrators back those files up regularly. If you accidentally delete a file or overwrite it (my normal mistake), you can get it back from the backup version.Great tips!

  4. Jodith (189 comments) March 27, 2008 5:52 am

    Which is what I am constantly preaching to all of the employees at our agency.  Anytime I see files being saved to the desktop, they get a lecture.  “Only shortcuts go on the desktop.  Files go on the server.”

    Thanks for the comment, Mark.

  5. Earl (1 comments) July 17, 2010 7:38 am

    Nice article (and nice blog design too). One thing I always preach in terms of saving files on the computer is always save to a network, or an external hard drive. There is nothing that is going to slow down the performance of a computer than having tons of disorganized files and folders stored to it, without ever defragging the system. The other benefit of the external drive is that you can pick it up and take it with you on your travels and use it with any computer rather than necessarily having to take your complete PC with you.

  6. kanban tool (2 comments) March 30, 2015 4:25 am

    Organization is the key for efficient work day. It’s always good idea not only to organize your desk, but also files, tasks and all other materials. Management tools are extremely helpful in boosting our productiveness and allowing us to organize our work load with ease. Access to your tasks and files from anywhere is also a major benefit when you have to work from home.

    Allison Stern

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