How To Maintain an Organized Office

Your office can go from this…

Clients often ask me why their office doesn’t stay organized. My response is always the same: office organization, like any other type of organization, requires upkeep. Upkeep is described as “E” in the SPACE system. “E” stands for Equalize, which is the maintenance required to keep the system working once the organizing project is complete. Like paperwork, email, calendar management, or any other task, organizing is not a one and done thing. It requires regular work to maintain.

As a reminder, SPACE stands for Sort (like with like) Purge (unneeded, unused, unwanted items), Assign a Home (figure out where items will live) Contain (prevents one group of items from negatively impacting another group of items) and E (Equalize.)

I also use the SAVE process to create organizing systems. The best organizing systems, and those that last the longest, employ Simplicity, Accessibility, and Visibility, Every day. 

Both strategies can be utilized to organize your workspace.

…to this!

So, how do you maintain an organized office?

First, SPACE your workspace. SPACE everything – the desks, the drawers, the shelves, your file system, and, if it’s used as storage, the floor.

  • Set a timer for 15-20 minutes, and then do as much as possible in the area in which you’re working.
  • Establish your decision matrix. If something is broken, out of date, no longer relevant, makes the office look cluttered (say, excessive décor), or you otherwise do not love, use, or need it, consider downsizing it.
  • But, do be aware of any industry compliance issues when downsizing. Industry compliance applies mostly to documentation but can apply to other things as well.
  • Remember that sometimes documents need to be kept even if there is not an immediate (or potentially ever) use for them.

Once an area is SPACE’d, set up Zones.

  • Determine which type of work happens where and set up zones to facilitate this.

Use the ‘Fingertip Method’.

  • Items used regularly should be within reach so you don’t have to get up to retrieve them.
  • This includes writing implements, a stapler, phone stand, scissors, tissues, places for coffee or teacup and water, Post It notes, a note pad and your To Do box. And of course your desktop or laptop, or both.
  • Items not needed on a regular basis can be stored elsewhere.

That takes care of your physical space. The final step to maintaining an organized office is organizing your virtual desktop. A cluttered desktop reduces productivity because it takes longer to find what you need. It may even render the search function less productive.

  • Use the same principles to organize your virtual desktop that you use for your physical desktop.
  • SPACE each file, downsizing items you no longer need, want, or use.
  • Then place the remaining files into organized folders.
  • Consider setting up a File Index so you know where items are located.
  • Do this in small chunks of 15-20 minutes on a regular basis to avoid build up.

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. is a productivity expert and Certified Professional Organizer. Contact Lisa if you would like to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

How To Create Task Zones for Office Efficiency

Many articles on creating office zones focus on zone usage for many people, such as collaboration zones to brainstorm with others, quiet zones for concentration, deep work zones for important project work, and private zones for breaks & non-business tasks.

Although it can be helpful to have these types of zones in a large office employing many people, this blog post talks about Task Zoning. Task zoning adds to productivity by establishing dedicated spaces within your own work area to get more done more effectively.

Effective Task Zones are deeply customized for each individual for optimum work performance. What works for one person may not work for another.

Below are the Task Zones that work for me.

  1. The ‘To Do’ Zone. This zone contains important work which needs to be completed. This includes both soft and hard copy items of tasks. Many of these tasks are administrative – bill pay, financials logging, tracking mileage, sending out contracts to potential clients, managing team projects, and managing email. Other examples of items in my ‘To Do’ Zone include upcoming project notes, important notes from colleagues, and a comprehensive To Do list. Because I’m only about 80% paperless, my ‘To Do’ zone includes information in hard copy along with the relevant soft copy documents, organized just enough, but not too much, according to how I use and retrieve them.

    My ‘To Do’ zone includes a hard copy of my To Do list, hard and soft copies of upcoming team projects, with dates, participating staff, and notes, and a Post It note with reminders of upcoming tasks that absolutely, positively, have to be done within the next week.

  2. The ‘Deep Work’ Zone. This zone enables the critically necessary deep work that keeps us in business – in my case, project items. While much of my work consists of items in the ‘To Do’ Zone, the ‘Deep Work’ zone is the work that makes up the most important part of business.

    My ‘Deep Work’ zone is almost completely dedicated to work projects. My work projects include Action Plans for current and potential clients, developing new products and services, implementing new business processes & creating new courses to teach colleagues and clients.

  3. The ‘When I Have Time’ or ‘Aspirational’ Zone. This zone is dedicated to long term projects that require a lot of time and effort. These are the things that should be done, and that would behoove me to do, but that require so much time and effort that I may never get to them. Because I don’t want to lose track of them, I keep them here.

    Items in my ‘Aspirational’ Zone include complex marketing strategies I’m thinking about implementing, engaging a video team to produce a marketing video of an organizing project, writing a book (who isn’t?), deep reading on new organizing topics and strategies for special populations with whom I’m not as familiar as I’d like to be, and obtaining additional industry certifications. These are all things I want to keep track of but do not currently have time to address. I may never have time to address these, but on the off chance I do, they are all in my ‘Aspirational’ Zone just waiting for my attention.

  4. The ‘Supplies’ Zone. This is a small but functional corner on the desk where often-used supplies are kept. I call these ‘fingertip’ supplies – I keep them at my fingertips so that they are available when needed. These can be replenished as necessary so you never run out.

    Examples of items kept in the ‘Supplies’ Zone: several pads of Post It notes in all colors, for on-the-spot note jotting, a large square of pull off notes with my business logo for on-the-spot bigger note jotting, pens and pencils, scissors, stapler, box of tissues, mobile phone stand for FaceTime calls, bowl of hard candies, water bottle, and my trusty laptop.

I find that dividing my desk space into these four zones aids my productivity by allowing me to track what needs to be done, and when, and with whom, whether it is a current project, administrative background work, or aspirational. You, too, can set up zones customized to your available space and how you work.

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. is a productivity expert and Certified Professional Organizer. Contact Lisa if you would like to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

Office Space Planning: Where to Start

Most business owners spend a LOT of time in the office. Office spaces that are easy to navigate, designed strategically, and well set up increase the chances of worker collaboration, productivity, and business success. Below are four tips to enhance office planning and setup.

  1. Strategize. Figure out where things will go, what the budget is, and who key decision makers are. Ask yourself what’s working, what tasks are difficult and why, and which tasks are most frequent. Then build your office space around these constraints and considerations. Strapped for space? Consider smaller work areas. Need more storage? Use wall space to increase storage options. Does your business scan a lot of documents? Place the scanner in an accessible area to make frequent scanning easier.

  2. Collaborate. To increase the likelihood of success and cooperation among workers, create spaces that enable people to communicate effectively. Open spaces work if there is sufficient storage and workspace.    Where possible, consider open desk areas instead of cubicles, soothing colors instead of jarring colors, and ergonomic chairs or standing desks to make it easier to work for long periods.

  3. Ascertain. Determine which tasks are the most important and most frequent and build your office space around them.  Have a lot of paperwork? Ensure there is enough space to catalog it all for easy use and retrieval. Use a lot of plans that are difficult to see on a computer screen? Ensure sufficient flat space is available to work on these. Deal with a lot of email? Have sufficient online storage and backup processes in place. Use a lot of supplies? Build in storage options to keep these tucked away but easy to get to.

  4. Reduce. Nothing is more distracting or difficult to work in than an office space filled with unused and unwanted items. Spaces that are cumbersome, overfull, and difficult to navigate detract from worker success. Don’t have a use for something? Don’t like something? Don’t have room for something? Sell it, donate it or otherwise remove it from the space.

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. is a productivity expert and Certified Professional Organizer. Contact Lisa if you would like to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

3 Ways To Streamline Processes

A process is a series of repetitive activities or linked tasks which occur in a specific order and end when a service or product is provided to a client. Streamlining processes makes things simpler and more efficient and leads to improvement in operations. The benefits to streamlining processes include minimizing costs, diminishing or eliminating lost time, and reducing wasted resources. Streamlining can also lead to increased engagement, efficiency, and communication.

To streamline processes, start by doing the following:

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How Changing Your Office Layout Can Increase Productivity

By Kristie Santana

Kristie Santana is a life coach, coaching educator, and author who has been in the coaching field for 15 years. Her latest project, Life Coach Path, aims to help educate and empower students to find coach training and start thriving coaching practices of their own.


Workspace design can arguably date back to the Roman era, but we know that when the first office building of the British Empire was constructed in 1726 in London, the architect had to design meeting rooms and spaces that could hold massive amounts of paperwork. Workplaces were very much about functionality and practicality, with little thought given to the employee. 

Fast forward nearly 300 years, and the pendulum has swung the other way. Global conglomerates like Google believe the workspace emanates an ‘energy’ and must be designed meticulously to support the mental health of their employees. At their New York headquarters, every employee is within 150 feet of an indoor restaurant, cafeteria or lounge. They firmly believe in ‘collision spaces’ where employees are encouraged to chat, dine, and drum up inspiration. 

Now, you may not be able to install a full-service restaurant in your office, but making a few changes could help increase office productivity and promote mental wellness.

Light it Up

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17 Apps for Tracking Time

When bringing tech into my business, I try to select tools that will enhance my productivity. Below are tips for choosing a time tracking app, along with options for time tracking apps that should lead to increased productivity.

When choosing a new app:

Use the KISS method. Kiss stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Sweetie.’ Ease of use is paramount with any new software. If I can’t determine how to use something within, say, the first 5 minutes, I’m not going to use it at all. So, bring in tech that is transparent, fun, easy to use, and keeps things simple for you and your team.

It’s not a bug…It’s a Feature! The more bells and whistles the software offers, the more difficult it can be to use. When possible, choose fewer, stronger features, rather than a whole host of ‘hey, that looks fun!’ Apps with fewer features enable ease of use, better streamlining, and a shorter (and flatter) learning curve. Definitely get what you need, but consider limiting extras.

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Easy Ways to Save Time

Home office organized by Lisa Mark, C.P.O.

Time Blocking

Identifying time-wasters is the first step to maximizing productivity. When thinking of daily tasks, ask if there is a way to clump, or group together, tasks that are similar. This strategy for doing similar things at one time is called time blocking.

From ToDoist.com: Time Blocking is a time management method that has you divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing a specific task, or group of similar tasks. Similar tasks may include:

  • Processing email
  • Scheduling client appointments
  • Attending meetings
  • Returning phone calls

Try using time blocking and see if it works for you.

Searching for Supplies

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How to Choose a Productivity App for Your Business

Because of the time and learning required to implement any new software, I tend to be a software minimalist. I do not want to spend time implementing and learning new software unless the benefits of doing so outweigh the investment of time and expertise I’ll need to put in. If what I have works well enough, I leave it alone.

This minimalism extends to my relationship with apps.

There is no such thing as the perfect app. App-savvy consumers may spend time on research, set up, and debugging, only to find that the new app is not all that much better than the old app was. Apps, like anything else, are only beneficial when they move us closer to our goals. And as with anything else, less is definitely more when it comes to apps.

I engage two processes when deciding whether to move forward with any type of upgrade, the ‘Questions’ process and the ‘Line in the Sand’ process.

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Learn How You Can Do More with The Resources You Already Have

Poor time management leads to accomplishing less with the same resources. Declining to set aside specific times to work on projects may result in unmet goals. Under these conditions, it is easy to spend the entire day responding to urgent items and be unable to find the time to complete more important items.

Solution: Identify & Pinpoint time expenditure.

  • Use a calendar to schedule deep-dive project time.
  • When possible, schedule other, less important tasks around brain-intensive project time.
  • ‘Chunk’ similar activities like processing email and returning phone calls.
  • Keep detailed records so you don’t have to search for important items after the fact.

The custom half-day schedule management tool below includes time frames for regular daily activities as well as planned deep-dive project time. Extra time is built in for unexpected occurrences – a meeting runs late, heavy traffic, or a task takes longer than expected.

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