Aslett (2005) sums up many individuals’ approach to office organization: he argues that we don’t make time to prioritize upfront, but we don’t subsequently mind being delayed by our own messes at a later time. If you’re constantly worrying about where something is or how to find it (or even if you have it in the first place), how much added stress is that causing you? If you are working toward rank or tenure, or find yourself in an “up or out” system, attaining maximum productivity is not only essential to your professional reputation, but it could very well make the difference between whether you are allowed to stay at your institution or whether you’re sent packing. Once you conquer your workspace, you can then conquer the essential elements of your job. The added benefit of having fewer things is having less to worry about, and fewer obstacles to accomplishing your tasks. Moreover, when you do your “second round” of sifting, it’s from a place of being more manageable.
Practice circumspection when bringing something new into the mix.
The pack rat system has no place in a career that has efficiency as its hallmark. Regularly scheduled purgings and a systematic way of organizing your belongings allow you to make room in your workspace for something new. The liberation of shedding (and the sense of control from knowing the placement of your belongings), is unmatched. Because professionals (and academics in particular) keep track of so many different types of papers (e.g., research, service, teaching, advising, and community service) it is that much more imperative to streamline our offices so that everything has a locatable home.
Restore things to their rightful place as soon as possible – the same principle applies when unpacking as soon as you return from a trip to avoid unnecessary confusion.
Aslett, D. (2005). The office clutter cure: Get organized, get results. Avon, MA: Adams Media.