Get Organized for 2014 in 30 Minutes

Have you been telling yourself that 2014 is the year that you will finally get organized?

If so, you have chosen an important goal. A study that came out of Princeton’s neuroscience institute said that when your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus and restricts your creativity. This is both true of your physical environment, like your desk, and also your virtual environment, such as your computer desktop or inbox.

The more things that you can see, even the things that do not matter anymore, the more time your brain spends subconsciously thinking about them.

The Daily Muse, a website offering career advice, recently hosted a webinar where the site’s COO and productivity expert Alex Cavoulacos gave numerous tips on how to leave behind 2013 and begin 2014 as organized as possible.

Your Desk

Your desk is likely where the majority of your work is accomplished. By taking control of your environment, you can choose to invite either focus or distraction. Your desk is also a signaling mechanism to your boss and co-workers. A messy desk can make the same negative impression as a messy wardrobe.

Cavoulacos suggests sorting everything you have on your desk into three piles: to file, to recycle and needs action. Likely the items in the action pile can simply be transferred to your to-do list.

Your Desktop

Your computer desktop is the virtual equivalent of your physical desktop. People typically utilize their desktop to house immediate files that they need. Overtime, however, these files can get out of control.

Start the organizing process by creating two folders: one for items that need to be put away and one for items that need your attention. Then file everything in the first folder, creating new folders to deal with any recurring types of files. To stay organized, put 15 minutes on your calendar at the beginning or end of each week to clear your desktop.

Your Email

Life is better lived when you spend as little time as possible dealing with emails. However if you receive thousands of emails per month, it can be difficult to keep your inbox uncluttered.

If an email has been in your inbox for several weeks or months, the likelihood of you answering it is extremely low. Even if you wanted to answer it, it’s been there so long that it may be embarrassing to answer it at this point in time and if it were important, the sender would have sent follow-up emails or called you. Therefore, take everything older than two to three months and archive, or file it away. Delete any newsletter that are more than a week old. Unsubscribe from as many newsletters as you can.

Your To Do Lists

Cavoulacos recommends consolidating all of your to do lists into one long list. Once you take everything you have, you will probably realize it is more than you can get done. Once it is all in one place, you can begin prioritizing. If something is neither important or urgent, can it be removed from the to do list? This can be a great exercise to take to your manager.

Missed the webinar? Watch it here.

We want to hear from you: What methods do you utilize to keep yourself organized?

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