Mar

02

 

When I was busy it often I often  got a sandwich or lunchbox and I ate at my desk.  It is only much later that I realized that this is a very bad habit.

 

  • Eating at your desk does not make you more productive. Whilst eating you are not really focused on your work and how often did you take this opportunity to just surf the Internet.
  • Taking a short break boosts productivity which makes up for the “lost minutes”.
  • Eating at the desk creates clutter and dirt, and you might spend time re-arranging the stuff on your desk to create space to eat.
  • When your mouth is full it is difficult to pick-up the phone anyhow.

 

The conclusion is that even if you only have the time for a short sandwich you better take a short walk away from your desk. You will return more refreshed and once back to your working environment you can immediately re-focus on getting things done.

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Have you ever thought about how much time you spend at your office or desk? If the answer is “a lot” it is worth investing money to get the best office furniture you can afford. This includes the desk and chair cabinets as well as equipment such as computers, printers, etc.

Good furniture not only increases your productivity by supporting your organization and increasing fun but also lasts much longer, so that it might even result in lower total cost of ownership over a long period.

Before buying a new furniture you need to become aware of your needs. 

  • Are you going to use it for meeting too?
  • How much storage do you require?
  • How much equipment such as computers, printers, chargers, shredder, etc. do you have?
  • Does it have to be representative?
  • What kind of things to you personally enjoy in a office.
Even if you have to keep going with your existing office furniture, it is worth going through these questions and optimize the current set-up.

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Having a clean desk has a lot of benefits. You become more organized, it is easier to focus on one thing at a time, you fulfill security and confidentiality requirements and a clean desk gets washed more often by the cleaning staff. However, maintaining a clean is a challenge for many of us. I therefore made a collection of easy tips that will help reducing the clutter on your desk.

1) Have an in- and outbox:

This alone will have a large impact since you organize the document traffic to and from your desk. All new items first go to the inbox and remain there until you start working on them.

2) Handle each document once only:

A major source for wasting time and keeping too many documents on your desk is starting something without finishing it. So when taking a document in your hand, try to accomplish all related tasks, so that it can go into the outbox, filing or delegated area.

3) Throw more away:

Be selective in filing. In case of doubt - throw it away. Be careful with documents that fall under legal or company policy retention periods.

4) Clean your desk every day:

Clean your desk every day before you leave the office. You reduce the maintenance effort through the daily exercise rather than making a big cleaning once per week or month. Another benefit is that you will enjoy a clean desk every morning when you arrive at your desk.

5) Don’t use post-its:

Post-its are a great invention. But people using them a lot tend to have them scattered all over their working place. The risk is high to overlook or lose them. Instead you better have a nice notepad on your desk, where you input all notes and reminders. You go through the notes from time to time and update your to-do list and other information and strike them out after completion. If you really can’t live without the colorful post-its you can also use an electronic version on your computer. It keeps your desk clean, it is easy to carry them with you and the probability of losing one is lower.

6) Reduce the number of pens:

Did you ever compare the number of pens in and on your desk with the number of pens you really use on a daily basis? Throw away all the pens you don’t need or don’t like and keep your 2 or 3 favorite ones. The same accounts for markers - in general two or maximum three colors will be sufficient.

7) How about photo frames:

Having photos of people we care about on our desk is a nice thing, but the frames also requires precious space. Reduce the photos as much as possible or even ban them from your desk. You can have these photos on your mobile phone or on a website like Flickr, where you can arrange nice photoshows. This also has the advantage that you are able to look at them when you are out of office.

8 ) Take your books home:

Many people keep a large number of private books in their office. Most of the time these libraries seem to serve as an impressive demonstration of the owner’s knowledge rather than being used regularly. Take the unused books home and free up your desk. If you want to keep certain knowledge with you, make an extract of the best information and store it on the Internet or your PC.

9) Don’t collect magazines, newspapers, etc.

A lot piles I have seen in other people’s offices are made of all kind of magazines and newspapers they want to read later. In fact these piles tend to become higher and higher and correlate with the feeling of desperation just thinking of getting through all that stuff. If you see an article you want to read later, take out or copy the page and don’t keep the entire magazine or newspaper. If you keep the whole thing, you sometimes even don’t remember anymore what you found interesting. Never keep daily newspapers. You can find most articles online and the really important things wil be covered for more than one day anyhow. If you have difficulties getting through your daily newspaper I recommend reading a weekly. They focus on the summary and you can skip the daily events.

10) Don’t print emails to read them:

Don’t print emails to read them. This is wasting time, printing costs and it is a very good source to keep your table scattered. If you feel that it is hard to read emails on the screen, consider purchasing a bigger screen. I am sure that this investment will pay off quickly.

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Sep

03

I travel a lot and always had problems following up on the postal arriving home. As a result I missed a few payments or notices and it took me much more effort to get these things right afterwards.

With the Internet being everywhere I now found companies (e.g. private box) that provide a PO box as a service. For any incoming letter you will receive a notification by email. When you follow their link and log into their website you will be able to get more details such as the sender and size of the letter. At this stage the letter has not been opened so that you don’t receive information on its content.

You can then chose if you want them to open and scan the letter for you, forward it or throw it away.

Since I am using this service I never missed any mail again and I significantly improved my scanned document filing on my Internet server. This is the right thing for everyone who travels a lot.

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Sep

02

Other people from our own and other companies regularly give us all kinds of free giveaways. Few of them are really good and useful to us - most of it does not add any value to our life and it will be around without use for some time before ending in the trash bin.

So why do we so often accept them although we do not need them? Because they are for free and it gives us a good feeling.

As a conclusion you shoudl more often say no - unless you have a real and regular use for this item or you know someone who really does. In the end it will also save the marketers a lot of money or they will better think of their target groups and offer may be less but better giveaways.

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Sep

01

1) Don’t use post its

Post its initially where a great invention.  But people using them a lot tend to have them scattered all over their working place. The risk is high to overlook them as well as to lose them. Instead you better a nice notepad on your desk, where you will input all notes and reminders. You will go through the note from time to time and update your to-do list and other information and strike out your note.

If you really can’t live without the colorful post its you can also use an electronic version on your computer. It will keep your desk clean, it will be easy to carry them with you and the probability of getting lost is lower.

2) Reduce the number of pens

Did you ever compare the number of pens in and on your desk to the number of pens your really use on a daily basis? Throw away all the pens you don’t need or don’t like and keep 2 or 3 you really like. The same accounts for markers - in general two or maximum three colors will be sufficient.

3) How about photo frames:

Having photos from the people we care about on our desk is a nice thing, but the frames also requires previous space on your desk. Reduce the photos as much s possible or even ban them from your desk. You can have these photos on your mobile phone or on a website like Flickr, where you can arrange nice photoshows. This also has the advantage that you will be able to look at them when you are on business trip.

4) Take your books home:

Many people keep a large number of private books in their office. Most of the time these libraries seem to serve as an impresive demonstration of the potential knowledge of the owner rather than being regularly used.

Take those books you don’t use frequently at work home and free up your desk. If you want to keep certain knowledge with you make an extract of the best information for you and store it on the Internet or your PC.

5) Don’t collect magazines, newspapers, etc.

A lot piles I have seen in other people’s offices are from all kind of staff they want to read later. In fact these piles tend to become higher and higher and correlate to the feeling of desperation just thinking of getting through all that staff.

If you see an article you want to read later, take out or copy the page and don’t keep the entire magazine or newspaper. If you keep the whole thing you sometimes even don’t remember anymore what you found interesting.

Never keep daily newspapers. You can find most articles online and the really important things wil be covered for more than one day anyhow. If you have difficulties geeting through your daily newspaper I recommend reading a weekly. They focus on the summary and you can skip the daily events. 

6) Don’t print emails to read them

Don’t read emails to read them. This is waisting your time, printing costs and it is a very good source to keep your table scattered. If you feel that it is hard for you to read emails on the screan you shoudl consider purchasing a bigger screan. I am sure that this investment will pay off quickly.

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Aug

25

Exchanging business cards is a vital part in establishing new relationships. You therefore cannot allow to run out of stock. I therefore recommend ordering cards in large lots (200 or more). In large companies you have a higher risk of changing the cards due to changes of organization names and titles, but you can take this risk considering that the costs for processing one purchase order in a large company is probably higher than the value of the business cards themselves.

On one hand large order quantities will significantly reduce the printing costs per card. On the other hand you also make sure that you always have sufficient stock of business cards. You should then store some cards in your desk, in your wallet as well as in your travel luggage.

If you want to remind you to order new cards once you have reached the minimum stock you can put a small piece of paper saying “order new business cards” inside the last full box of cards in your stock.

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Aug

09

Here you find a template for a clear desk policy. You can use it to draft the clean desk policy of your company and delete or add items, so that it fits to your needs. Please leave some comment if you see room for improvement. I will share it with all other visitors who are interested in writing a clean desk policy.

Clean Desk Policy

1) Objectives:

With the implementation of a clean desk policy we want to achieve the following objectives:

Improve cleanliness of the company

When desks are clean and all areas of the company are free from paper and clutter, the office looks clean and efficient. People feel more comfortable in a well organized environment and guests will have a good impression of the company.

Improve protection of confidentiality & private data

A lot of information in our company is confidential and needs to be protected from unauthorized access by internal or external parties. The application of a clean desk policy reduces this risk compared to an environment without such a policy and all kind of staff on the tables.

 Improve our productivity

We strongly believe that a clear desk will increase productivity because less time is spent searching for items. It also helps focussing and keeping a clear mind.

 Enable usage of hot desks

With the implementation of this clean desk policy we are able to share desks between several employees. This reduces infrastructure costs and increases flexibility to change seats depending on projects or schedules.

 

2) Your desk:
In order to practice a clean desk policy we encourage you to follow these three basic rules:

When you are at your desk

Only keep those items on your desk which you need for the day. After you started and planned your day we recommend you only have the in- and outbox as well as the documents related to today’s to-do list on your table. All other staff can remain in your cabinet.

When you temporarily leave your desk

You will regularly leave your desk to attend meetings or to take breaks. In this case you should make a quick check if there is sensible information on your desk and put it away. However, you DO NOT need to put everything into your container and lock it.  For security reasons switch on your computer’s password protected screen saver.

When you leave your desk

When you leave your desk in the evening don’t leave documents on it.  The in- and outbox as well as all other documents must be in your container. Lock your container, so that unauthorized people cannot access it. You can give a second key to your deputy, so that the container is accessible in case of urgent need during your absence. 
3) Tips & Tricks:
These links shall help you finding tips & trick on how to achieve and maintain a clean desk. Some of them will certainly work for you, too.

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Aug

09

May be you don’t clear your desk because you are very busy. On the other hand you feel that your productivity is reduced due to the mess on your table. Here are a few tips on how to make it:

1) Plan the cleaning day in your calendar:

Chose a day where your schedule probably is not so busy and reserve the day for clearing up your desk. Treat it like having a workshop and only cancel or shorten it for really urgent matters. As I always emphasize it is important to motivate yourself. So think on how nice your desk might look like afterwards or what kind of reward you will allow yourself after accomplishment. Plan a second but shorter time slot two weeks later again. Here you will clean again when the first mess starts again and also look at the “review later again” box.

2) Preparations:

Before you start clearing your desk you better prepare a few things, so that you can efficiently proceed in one step:

  • In- and outbox for incoming and outgoing documents
  • Have shredder nearby
  • Prepare a box for review later again
  • Have staff to wash your desk.
  • Accessory for filing (Folders, files, etc.)
  • A box for non paper trash
  • Post-its and sufficient clear files
  • Make yourself familiar with document retention rules
  • Photo camera

3) How to:

  • What needs to be done goes directly into the inbox, which you will process later.
  • Material that might be interesting for someone else is put into a clear file with a handwritten message on a post it and goes in to the outbox.
  • When reviewing documents you should look forward such as will I need this in future. Don’t distract yourself with things from the past and memories.
  • Be very selective in what you keep. In case you are not sure you put it into a box labelled “review later again”. You will review it during the next time slot two weeks later. You will probably find a solution for most items then.
  • Once you started you keep going until you cleared the entire desk.
  • Then wash the desk properly so that it looks and feels good.
  • Make a photo of it, print it and hang it at a prominent place on your desk so that it will always remind you of how it should remain.
Start with your desk because it will immediately impact your productivity and it also has the highest visibility. Cabinets and other places will be done after completion of the desk.
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Jul

26

Keep every document in your inbox or bag or on your table in a separate clear folder. This has the advantage that documents will not mix up and they also glide well on each other when you flip through the pile.

You might even use different colors to visualize priorities, subjects or levels of confidentiality.

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