Work Productively at Your Desk by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D.
Your desk should be the place that simply works (and works simply) for you. It shouldn’t be a place of distraction or entertainment. If you don’t feel productive, schedule a Saturday or off-work day (furlough?) to give yourself a mini-makeover. If you spend money, save the receipts for tax time. Use the following ideas to assist you.
- Define what a productive environment is like for you. There is not one and only one definition. It depends on your style, your work, your space, and more.
- Study the ergonomics of your work space. Especially think about getting a better keyboard – one with a built-in wrist pad.
- Take a look at your lighting. If you don’t have a window, consider light bulbs that simulate outdoor light.
- Consider sound. One of my assistants doesn’t even have the speakers plugged in on her computer. Music is entertainment for her, and is therefore a distraction.
- Assess the quality of furniture and other accoutrements. If your file drawer is always sticking, it has an impact on your productivity.
- Get the supplies you need, but don’t store anything that you don’t use EVERY DAY on the top of your desk.
- Use the ABCD concept for spaces around your desk. Think of your desk and associated areas as a target. You sit in the bull’s eye, or “A” area, and anything you can reach without moving your chair is also in the “A” area. I like to call this “prime real estate.” Ask yourself if you use the items in this space EVERY day. (Do you really use the phone book every day?) “B” space is for every other day, “C” is weekly, and “D” space is materials that you must maintain but that you do NOT deal with very often.
- Eliminate rather than add. You don’t need MORE stuff, you need less. You probably try to convince your students of this fact, too.
- Take it all away and put it all back at least once/year.
- Hire someone for a couple of hours or more (a professional organizer). For more information about professional organizers in your area, just check with The National Association of Professional Organizers.
Take the time and energy to make sure that your desk and workspace are places where you can work productively. It’s worth the effort.
And if you liked these tips you may be interested in the Get a Plan! Guide® to Ridding Your Workspace of Clutter part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series designed to give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion.