Has the Computer Decluttered Your Desk?

decluttered desk

“A tidy desk is a sign of a tidy mind” or at least so I have heard!

The computer manufacturers and software producers claimed that we would end up in a paperless society. Whilst that is not quite here yet there certainly has been a huge reduction in paper usage. From newspapers to postal mail paper use has dramatically gone down. But what about in the office?

In some office environments, we can say that paper usage has dramatically decreased or almost eliminated. For others, it seems that there is a 2 system method in operation. Documents are used in paper form then often duplicated or scanned later onto computer storage often creating more work than if paper only were used.

What does your desk look like? Are there files piled up like you might expect to see in a 1950’s office? Maybe your desk looks like the one in the photo above, in which case I say, “Congratulations!”

This has given me an idea for a Twitter feature. Take a photo of your desk, either tidy or untidy and share it with my Twitter account @ProfitsrGood. There are no prizes but it will be fun! Please make sure that no confidential details are shown in the photo.


Have a “To Do” List

To be efficient it is vital that you do not forget to do tasks. Your customers will not be happy if you do not keep your promises and failing to carry out tasks can cost you your reputation and money.

One of the best ways to be organised is to have  a ‘to do list’ where you can write down tasks that you must do. Any tasks that you fail to complete on one day should be added to the top of the list the next day. Of course tasks that must be done on a certain day you should mark as Priority and do them. I often find that there are some tasks that I don’t like doing and the human reaction is to try and put off those tasks as much as possible. A tip that I learned a long time ago was to do the tasks first that you least like. Once those tasks are done you feel a lot better and can enjoy the rest of your day without constantly thinking that you need to do them. Putting off such tasks will probably slow you down from doing your work as you may keep thinking about them creating in you a negative feeling.

Active and Re-Active Tasks

Be flexible with your list because tasks will fall into 2 categories. I will call these Active and Re-active. Active tasks are the ones that you plan for. At the end of every day or the beginning of the new day write down the tasks that you know have to be done carrying over those not completed on your previous list. These are the active tasks. However maybe something will happen such as a telephone call from a customer that needs action. This is a reactive task and will need to be added to your list. This task may need to take precedence over some other tasks and so your list needs to allow flexibility to add this task to today’s work even if that means leaving something not as important until tomorrow.

You may wish to number your tasks giving them an order in which they need to be completed rather than trying to write them down in order of importance. This is more flexible as when you think of tasks to do you can write them on your list and number them after completing the list rather than trying to think of tasks in order of importance and possibly forgetting to write a task down as a result.

Time Management

A to do list is a great way to have good time management and work both in business and our personal lives. Get into the habit of creating a daily list, one for business and one for your personal life. You will find that you will be much more organised and find more time available than you thought you had.

Roland Millward
The Entrepreneur Club

What do you think about To Do Lists? Please share your experiences by commenting in the box below.


Basic Principles For Running An Efficient Office

Putting in place simple office procedures and systems, which are quite often overlooked as they are not direct to your revenues, can ensure that your office runs smoothly. Improving your business systems will allow you to work in an efficient manner which in turn brings fewer frustrations, lower costs, more time and value to your business.

It would be very easy for me to sit here and tell you to do this and do that when running your business; but we all know that we have different personalities, work patterns and run different types of businesses. However, we all have to manage the day-to-day demands and the decision-making processes unique to our business. Having an efficient office can improve your success and help you achieve your goals.

Below are some specific points to consider when putting in place office systems:

Office Layout

For an office to be efficient you firstly need to think about your furniture and equipment. Avoid using built-in desks and other furniture if possible, as your business grows your workflow will change and movable equipment is easily rearranged.

Think carefully when planning your office space. Save precious time in your day-to-day work by having active storage – organise what you need to be nearby and where you use it. Use your common sense, there is no point filing a book you use daily right on the top shelf. Avoid placing equipment and supplies where you’ll have to move them again and again to reach other items.

Business Documents

Design your logo, documents and fonts to reflect your business. Documents include letters, invoices, emails, compliment slips and signatures for example. Setting up standard templates ensures consistency.

Filing system

A filing system is only useful if you know where to find the information you need and a good one means that a piece of paper only needs to be handled once before it goes where it belongs.

Your office filing system should separate all information into logical and easy to find categories. All documents that are important e.g. correspondence, reports, minutes, proposals, accounts, contracts and job descriptions should be filed.

Unless clients regularly visit your office, the efficiency of your system is probably more important than how it looks.

Archive documents to minimise expensive office space – microfilm, storage containers, PST files, CD/DVD copies are some ways of achieving this.

Information Systems

Everyone in your office should have easy access to certain important information. This can be achieved by setting up an Intranet, placing charts/lists on walls or setting up a paper file centrally in the office. Examples of information that should be available are:

  • Standard Office Procedures (Further information can be found at Knoji)
  • Company Aims and Plans
  • A calendar of important dates e.g. business meetings, deadlines, staff holidays
  • A chart that maps progress of projects
  • A list of employees, contractors and services with contact details
  • Blank forms and templates e.g. timesheets, financial claim forms
  • But all of the above needs to be up to date. Plan in time to ensure that the above is reviewed


Your computer will run more efficiently if you regularly check for updates to your machine, ensure antivirus software is current and regularly back up files. Ensure that you are consistent with filenames and where electronic information is filed. Make sure you schedule in time weekly to ensure these tasks are fulfilled.

Time Management

Good time management, and planning, helps to improve business. Keep task lists, plan your time and set yourself realistic time frames. Don’t flit between jobs and tasks, you will lose the thread and often feel that you haven’t accomplished anything.

Below is a list, which although may seem very basic will help you to be in control and free up time for paid work.

  • Set up a timetable for regular tasks e.g. beginning of the month for your accounts.
  • Friday morning file, once a month or once a week update your contacts, banking on a Friday, stock take on a Monday… whatever suits your needs?.
  • Between 9 and 10 is a good time to make phone calls as most people are at their desk then? or early in the afternoon.
  • First thing in the morning deal with emails, then again after lunch and just before you finish for the day?

Office Housekeeping

Office housekeeping requires skill, time and patience and is an essential part of keeping your office running smoothly. Applying the concept little and often will keep systems running smoothly, emails and paperwork easily accessible and your in-tray a place you want to be.

Information, people and resources are the lifeblood of any organisation. If you do not have systems for managing and controlling all these things your organisation can become inefficient. Setting up these systems will help you now and in the future as your business grows. These procedures will already be set up and as you employ more people procedures will be in place for them to follow.

Eliminate stress, clutter, and unnecessary interruptions and your office will run more efficiently. Time is money and any system which frees up your time to work on generating profits is essential to your business.

This article has been kindly written by Emma Windsor who is a Virtual PA. You can also follow Emma on Twitter

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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