Skip to main content
Important COVID-19 Update How we can help you
Personal ProductivityProductivity Tip

Organize and Systemize

By April 24, 20124 Comments

Systems create freedom – clutter causes captivity

According to the Wall Street Journal the average US Executive wastes 6 weeks per year searching for missing information on messy desks, that is nearly an hour a day! It is estimated this is costing employers between $4000 – $8,125 per employee each year – yikes!

To increase your productivity at work (and home) you need to organize and systemize.

It’s not about shuffling papers, making bigger piles or doing the occasional ‘spring clean’. Getting organized is very leveraged – clean once, use often!

Take a quick sneak peek at your desk right now… what signals does it send to your co-workers? Do you look organized, professional … in control? … OR… do you look like a hot mess? Your workspace is an unconscious message to your team about how organized and systemized you are on a daily basis.

To get great ideas on this topic we turned to our favorite fabulous professional organizer Laurie Palau from simply b organized for great advice:

  • Make use of vertical wall space – hanging inboxes for important folders are clears up valuable desk space allowing you to work in a clean and undistracted workspace.
  • Separate action or reference to items that come across your desk.  i.e. a report you need to work on, place it in your action file, however if it’s a report you need to keep because you need to refer to it later, belongs in the reference file.
  • Store papers vertically as opposed to as a pile on your desk.  It allows for easy referencing and reduces the chances of something important being misplaced.
  • Create an electronic filing system eliminating unnecessary clutter on your desk. Added bonus: it takes a fraction of the time to locate electronic documents as opposed to sorting through piles of papers.

We would add that investing 15 minutes organizing your workspace today will make you feel more productive.

Quick 15 minute clean: Set your alarm… ready, set go – In 15 minutes create a system for incoming paper, consider introducing step file holders for visual recognition, remove all unnecessary stationery from your desk top and throw away all trash.  Voila… it only takes 15 minutes to create a system and will save you hours each day!

Here are some additional statistics to scare you into getting organized:

  • 1 in 11 American households rents self-storage space spending an average of $1,000 per year in rent. Did you know the self-storage industry is a $154 Billion dollar per year industry – crazy!
  • The US Department of Energy reports that 25% of people with 2-car garages have so much stuff there isn’t room to park their cars!
  • 30% of people have lost an important document due to a messy desk.
  • 47%of people state that disorganization commonly leads to lost time.
  • 16% say that disorganization leads to meeting tardiness.
  • 14% say that a messy desk leads to a missed deadline.
  • People spend 6 minutes on average each day looking for their keys!

Getting organized is about creating small systems that will allow you to have massive impact. What is one system you could create today that would help you feel more organized, save you time… and potentially save you money!

Now that’s productive!

PS. For more ideas on how to get more organized check out Laurie’s blog and great resources – click here


  • Maria Novey says:

    Terrific info! I use colors to organize projects and clients — each client has a colored binder and my work folders coincide with the color assigned. File folders can be purchased in almost every color — creates an easy system and also brightens up your desktop and file drawer 🙂

  • I loved this article, especially the last point which I will address in a second.

    I remember the first time I heard you speak, Neen -The Union League in Philadelphia. You mentioned in your talk about the perks of having an orderly desk. In that moment I became your inspired pupil of order and a most fabulous desk snob. I also made an appointment for a feng shui consultation and then studied its marvels for 8 months with a well-known practitioner.

    I’m a practicing psychotherapist by profession. Over the years I have had the privilege of sitting with many couples struggling with a myriad of issues. Not infrequently one-half of the couple is about disorder – messy and “Have you seen my glasses, keys, etc.” The other half of the team is organized and precise and will often be heard saying – ever so sweetly mind you – “I think I saw said items on your workbench, dear.”

    Five minutes later a stomping can be heard throughout the kingdom as Oscar – a crowned and self-proclaimed bearer of truth – comes flying up the stairs declaring at indignant deafening decibels, “The glasses, key, etc. are not there!”

    Oh what does one do now? One learns to shrug one’s shoulders and say when the first question, “Have you seen” is on the table to respond differently as “Darn, I know I saw them somewhere” and let it sit out there just like that.

    Kind regards and thanks for a validating reminder about how to be more productive.

    • NeenJames says:

      G’day MJ

      Thanks for sharing, when we are organized life feels a little easier and we reduce overwhelm for sure!

Leave a Reply