Welcome to part 2 of my three part series on where I work! Between the office and my office at home (stay tuned for that tomorrow!), I spend a lot of time sitting right smack-dab in the middle of these photos – so I figured I’d break it down for y’all.
This part focuses on the area to the right of my keyboard/monitor – where I have my active files, my phone and (spoiler alert) my fake plant.
My “active projects files” set-up is what I think is most helpful to breakdown, and I wouldn’t like it as must as I do without this little guy:
He keeps my “official” project files (the ones I bother to make labels for) organized at the top, and my miscellaneous-type project files neat-and-tidy in the three drawers underneath. I particularly like this system because I don’t have to make folders for the projects that:
- can be tossed when I’m done with them; OR
- that can go into a file I already have in my filing cabinet
The drawers keep everything I need handy, and when I’m done I can toss them in a file or toss them in the recycle bin.
Anything that doesn’t fall into one of the two excuses above, I consider an official project, and so I make a folder with a label. David Allen defines a project as “any desired result that requires more than one action step” – so the folders along the top hold all the action steps along the way.
The pretty folders in the back are key to my organization system. These are labeled:
- SIGN & RETURN TO JEANNIE
- ROBIN (my boss)
All the managers know that the blue folder (SIGN & RETURN TO JEANNIE) contains something that needs to be signed (and returned to Jeannie… imagine that). It’s sturdy and stands out… I’ve had great success having items signed and returned in a timely manner and I’ve never had one lost.
The “ROBIN” folder is what David Allen calls an “agenda” folder. Basically, you make a dumping ground for everything you need to review with an individual (or group of individuals) and that way you review everything at once. According to David Allen “Standing meetings and peope you deal with on an ongoing basis may need their own ‘agenda’ list” and since I only see my boss a couple of times per week, this is where I put everything to review with her.
“EXPENSES” hold the receipts for items I can expense (and the scraps of paper on which I write down my mileage) and “TIMESHEETS” hold timesheets (because sometimes these are done weeks in advance… shhh… ).
My phone set-up is pretty straight-forward: phone, paper, pens, and phone list. My favorite little tip here is that everything you pin to a board or wall looks more organized when you add a label:
The last stop of the tour of my office space, is the some-what sad looking corner:
A fake plant (did you know most offices with a plant service won’t allow you to have a potted plant (one with soil)? Sad, huh?), a photo of my dad and brother at a ball game, and a box of tissues.
One very important part of my workspace that is not pictured is my inbox. David Allen covers the inbox at length in his book (seriously, pages and pages… and it’s all good stuff!). Two tips regarding the inbox:
- Keep it empty (or nearly empty): otherwise, people won’t trust that you’ll actually get to whatever it is they want to put in there and they’ll just leave it on your desk chair
- Keep it out of your line of sight: that way, when somebody tries to interrupt you with something, you can simply say (without even turning your head!) “you can just stick it in my inbox and I’ll get to it. If I have any questions, I’ll let you know” – awesome.
You can encourage productive behavior by your co-workers (I didn’t want to say “train your co-workers” – they’re not seals). If you keep your inbox empty, they will trust that you’ll get to it and not interrupt you: everyone wins!
One item that you might notice is missing (and another favorite little organization tip) is a tape dispenser. Most people don’t use tape enough to justify the desk space. You probably don’t need this on your desk, so feel free to throw it in your desk drawer. Another item that is missing but should actually be there is my stapler (somebody had borrowed it). David Allen suggests (and I agree) that you should have a stapler that you don’t need to pick up to use.
So, there you have my entire office area (between part one and part two). Tomorrow, I can’t wait to show you my SIX square-foot office!