“But I’m Organized At Work”
One of the things I often hear during my consultations with prospective clients is “I know things are disorganized in my home, but, believe it or not I’m very organized at work.” Well I do believe it. Here’s why.
First, a disclaimer. I certainly acknowledge that not everybody is organized at work. It’ s been 11 years since I’ve been in the corporate world, but I remember the piles on my coworker’s desks vividly. So if that’s you, I’m not trying to convince you that being more organized at work represents everyone’s pattern. But for those of you who can relate, here’s why I think is easier to stay organized at work and how to bring it home.
Here’s a simple one. Discarding is easier at work. Every morning you come in and maybe there are projects on your desk, but at least, someone has always emptied your trashcan. It’s open to receiving new things, even if you aren’t. Also, there is usually one big central source for shredding. You don’t have to worry about the amount or the cost. The company takes care of it. Because these things are automatic and free there are no barriers to discarding. While it doesn’t make sense to replicate the same systems in your home, it is a good idea to look at what barriers you may have to discarding. For starters, have the appropriate receptacles: one for recycle, one for regular trash, and one for shred. Always think about the next step. The bins shouldn’t be so small that they overflow by lunchtime, but they shouldn’t be so large you can’t easily carry them out.
I know a cubicle doesn’t conjure up positive associations, but it is a good example of a dedicated zone. It sets a limit on your space and as much as you may not like it, it limits your neighbor’s stuff from spilling into your space. Since it’s your dedicated space, you are forced, at least somewhat, to prioritize what makes the cut. Sure, you may have some display items, but most of what’s in there had better help you get you through your workday or you’ll be working late. At home, if your work space can be anywhere, it may end up being everywhere. Furthermore, anything may find it’s way in to a non-dedicated zone. It’s better to have a small dedicated area for work than a number of larger undedicated options. It may mean taking a tip from the office. Keep separate dedicated zones for office supplies, archives, lounging, etc.
In a corporate office you can essentially focus on just projects all day. Oh, I know there may be several projects going on at once and it takes a toll on your focus, but it’s not as distracting as taking on projects AND shopping AND making dinner AND answering the door AND picking up the kids— all in the same morning. Something’s got to give and often it’s the tidying up. Choose dedicated time zones, wherever you can, and stick to them (wherever you can;-)
In an office setting you are, obviously, more aware of others around you and how they may view you. If you are coordinating on a project with others, you force yourself to efficiently get your work done, so that you are holding up your end of the work. Perception matters at work. There is a study out, showing that workers who keep a clear desk are perceived to be more industrious than their less fastidious counterparts and are more likely to receive promotions. When we have to impress others, it is just natural to step up our game. I have found this to be the hardest element to replicate in my home office. I think it is a huge mistake to assume working from home means you are free to work in your pajamas all day, if you want. I have found the more I can stick to the type of limitations I have had in the corporate world, the faster and more effectively I can complete my work in the home office.
What are some reasons that you find it easier to stay organized at work? Have you found some effective ways to bring those elements home?