5 tricks for translating email tidiness into real life organisation

There are two types of people in the world: Those who keep a tidy inbox and those who don’t — and the latter category rarely succeeds in business. More likely than not, your email inbox is the picture of perfection, with carefully curated folders for different problems and projects, and chronologically ordered queries for future fulfillment.

Indeed, you could stare at your pristinely uncluttered digital workstation all day long — which is sadly not true of your physical workspace. If you suffer from a disorderly desk even while your email is absolutely immaculate, here are five ways you can adapt your digital organization into real life.

1. Develop a system

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the orderliness of your inbox. Undoubtedly, your inbox suffered several stages of structure before you settled on the most efficient option. Your inbox is only neat and tidy because you expended time and effort developing a system that sorts your emails into sensible spaces and because you continue to adhere to that same system day in and day out. You only need apply such diligence to your physical space in order to see neat and clean real world results.

Not everyone thrives from the same organization system, so you must find a way to keep your space organized that feels natural to you. Perhaps a highly complex, idiosyncratic system will make you feel most efficient, or perhaps you will better stick to a system that allows you to decorate with cute desk supplies and ornaments. The key is to find what works for you through trial and error — just like you did with your inbox.

2. Label your drawers

Most email masters know to sort their inboxes so emails from different people automatically go into different folders. Additionally, no matter how you choose to organize your folders, each one definitely has a name. Without those labels, you would never be able to find the emails you need to get work done.

Thing is, labels are becoming increasingly uncommon around the physical office, leading to dozens of hours lost to searching out missing files and supplies. At your own workstation, you can prevent wasted time and energy by printing out labels for your drawers that describe the necessities you have stored inside. Eventually, the organization will become second nature, but the labels will help you supremely while you are just starting out.

3. Use your trash can

You can’t save every email, even if you want to. To prevent letting your inbox swell into the triple digits, you must purge your emails every week or so. When the letters you receive are purely digital, it is thoughtlessly easy to move them to the trash.

However, it is notably more difficult to toss out physical items that are cluttering your desk. Printed information packets, ideas on sticky notes, and even letters from co-workers and friends can stack up next to your monitor for weeks while you decide whether or not you can throw them out with impunity. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t use a physical resource at work once every two weeks, you don’t need it. You should make good use of your company’s trash cans (and recycle bins) to clear up your space.

4. Collaborate
Email is the most efficient means of communication in the modern workplace, and teammates must often connect and cooperate through their inboxes. However, real-world collaboration simply can’t happen in a cluttered, chaotic space. Because cleanliness isn’t your primary job, you can outsource the heavy scrubbing, vacuuming, mopping, and polishing to the pros. Maintaining a tidy desk is easier than cleaning it yourself, which is one reason your office should hire a regular janitorial service to provide a deep clean.

5. Limit distractions
You would never even think about mixing your work emails with your personal emails; the results would be utter chaos, with notes from your mom sitting next to memos from your boss. Then, why do you think you can clutter your desk space with personal items? A single picture (preferably hanging) or a small potted plant should be enough to bring life into your work area; anything more — your entire stuffed animal collection, half of your personal bookshelf, every holiday card you’ve ever received — is unnecessary and messy, robbing your desk of valuable space for work.



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