Organize Your Desk: Optimize Your Setup

Optimize Your Desk Setup!

A good arrangement for your desk not only makes work easier and more enjoyable, it makes it better for your body! Don’t let pain and discomfort distract you from your work. 

The New York Times article 7 Things You Need for an Ergonomically Correct Workstation has this to say about an ergonomic setup. When you’re using your keyboard, “your arms and wrists would be in a neutral position: parallel to the floor or angled down toward your lap to reduce strain.” Test it out at your desk! If your arms aren’t parallel for angled downward, you can raise your sitting position, or lower your keyboard using a pull-out shelf. 

For your monitor, make sure “your eye level is about 2 to 3 inches below the top of the screen and about an arm’s length away.” That will help keep your neck straight and avoid a lot of backaches!

Look into ergonomic keyboards, too! They’re available in a wide range of prices. This one from Microsoft is a well-reviewed, inexpensive option. Split keyboards like this one from Kinesis Gaming offer more customization options.

There is also always, of course, the super extra option. Ergodox makes seriously cool, seriously fun-to-use keyboards that can be configured in tons of ways, including raising the keyboard up and down depending on where you’re using it. 

Have a Clear Space in Front of You

Keep a space in front of you clear from distractions or extra clutter. That gives you space to create, and a place to put materials relating to the task at hand. If you’re working digitally on several projects, consider using different desktop views for different projects. 

For instructions on working with Mac spaces, click here!

For instructions on working with Windows virtual desktops, click here!


Organize Your Desk: A Non-Boring Guide to Paperwork

Paperwork can be a dry subject (literally and figuratively!), so while I relay my expert tips for keeping paperwork under control, please also enjoy these very cute images of cats in business attire. Let’s go! 

Go Digital

The best way to manage paperwork is to make sure there’s never paperwork in the first place. Your bank statements, utility bills, and other recurring payments often have the option of digital delivery instead of paper. It’s eco-friendly, and it takes no physical space on your desk! 

Make sure that you download statements and other documents that you might need to refer to later. Your utility provider may clear old documents on their schedule instead of yours. 

Use RAFTS to Sort

The first step toward fully organized paperwork is to sort. When we are clearing someone’s desk, we use the RAFTS system: Recycle, Action, File, Trash/Treasure, and Shred.

Recycle any paperwork you no longer need that doesn’t contain sensitive information can be recycled. This includes things like advertisements, takeout menus, old Post-it notes, or junk mail.

Action items are anything that needs your attention, like a bill to pay or a letter to reply to, or phone calls to return.

File paperwork that contains things you will need later. Statements, school records, and policy documents fit into this category.

Trash/Treasure: Go through your paperwork and decide what’s worth keeping, and what’s worth letting go. Any paperwork with grease or other food on it can go. As for treasure, you can store holiday cards from family in a keepsake box. If you’re holding on to something you can’t remember receiving, consider recycling or trashing it to minimize clutter.

Shred anything with account numbers, social security numbers, or other non-public information that you no longer need. You don’t have to shred items with your name and address because that’s public information.


Practical Tips for Organizing Your Software

We’ve talked about files, but what about organizing software? Don’t let your apps run wild, they need structure, too! Here are my methods for keeping your software easy to find, use, and keep track of.


Do them! Keeping your software up to date is important for three reasons:

  1. Security: Software companies are always on the lookout for new ways to break their programs, and then change to make their systems less vulnerable. Security updates are extremely common, and updating on time means you’re as safe as possible.
  2. Features: The latest stuff is always cooler, right? Don’t miss out on upgraded or more user-friendly features.
  3. Complying with regulations: Just like with safety, software companies are on the lookout for new laws or policy changes that affect how their programs function. If you work in the healthcare industry, and your software isn’t up to date on the latest HIPAA regulations, you could be in some serious trouble!

Keep a Master List

If your computer goes kaput, the last thing you want to have to do is rebuild it from nothing. It’s the same when you purchase a new computer. Trying to remember what software your old computer had installed is brain-frying! This is where a master list comes in handy.


My Essential Tools for Managing Digital Files

I love certain things for organizing physical items: clear stackable bins, shelving, and labels are tools that apply in just about every situation! It’s the same with digital organizing. There are some simply-must-have tools for digital organizing that I recommend anyone use to keep their computer neat and tidy.

A Password Manager

I can’t remember all of my passwords, can you? Making secure passwords requires capital letters, numbers, special characters, and sometimes a double-authentication PIN, too. And the amount of passwords we need—one for every site—means that trying to remember them is not only exhausting, it’s basically impossible. And what about when it’s time to update the password? A sticky note just can’t take care of it like it used to.


Top 4 Tips for Organizing Digital Files

When I covered paper filing in the past, one of my top tips was, “The best way to keep track of paperwork is to make sure it never arrives in the first place!” But what about digital organizing?

Go digital when you can. Not only does it reduce paperwork that takes up physical space in your home, it reduces paper usage in general. Good stuff! At Organize to Excel, we aim to eliminate waste and help the environment wherever possible.

If (when!) you follow my advice about paperwork, you’ll end up with more digital files than paper ones. But if you don’t have a filing system in place on your computer, you’re just swapping paper clutter for digital clutter.

Here are my top 4 tips for digital organizing, keeping your computer files as neat and tidy as your physical ones.

1. Mimic Real Life

Would you throw your mail on the floor as soon as you brought it in the house? Do  you file everything as “Important”? If you do, give us a call and we can help you straighten that out!

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It doesn’t make sense to do these things, because all you’d get is a big pile of mail on your floor, and tons of time wasted spent searching for that one bill you kinda remember being in this pile…or is it this pile? Eek!

Physical clutter is more obvious than digital clutter because it’s in the way when you try to eat dinner at the table, or a tripping hazard in your hallway. And, you have to physically go through items one at a time. But digital clutter is real, and it’s costing you time and money you don’t need to spend.

Imagine your computer is a tiny filing cabinet. It needs labels, folders, and subfolders. It needs an internal logic, so the folders and subfolders are useful. If you think about digital files like they’re paper, it only makes sense to put them in some sort of order.


On the Go: Checks & Balances


Last week I wrote about making to-go kits for your car to avoid clutter and save time. But what about work? Learn how checklists and restocking cues can keep your supplies organized! Now I’d like to expand that idea to include hot-desking. If you have to pack up your desk at the end of every day, you need to use similar principles:

  • limit clutter,
  • have a home for each item, and
  • make sure it’s easy to put things away when you’re done.

There are all kinds of bags that can help, with designated laptop sleeves, expandable sides, and lots of compartments to contain everything a mobile office might need. This one is pretty neat!

Before you buy a bag, take stock of the things you need every day at work (and keep a critical eye, because when it comes to hotdesking, traveling light is key!). Buy a bag that has room for these items with some extra space for flexibility, but don’t go way bigger than you need. If your essentials only fill up a third of your bag, you might be using the wrong one.