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Want a Fresh Start at Work? Get Organized With These 7 Easy Steps

Topics: Career Advice
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Is there a part of you that’s craving some professional change in the new year? Maybe you like your job, but you’re not feeling the same passion for your work as you used to. Or, maybe you just wish you could be in a different office environment — one that’s more conducive to getting stuff done.

The good news is that you might not need to change jobs in order to get the fresh start you seek. You can give yourself a new lease on professional life simply by reorganizing your workspace. Get organized, and you might find yourself more engaged and productive — even happier at work.

Sound like a stretch? Consider: studies have shown that clutter makes it more difficult to focus on a task, while keeping a clean living space is associated with having a healthier and more active lifestyle. It makes sense that renewing your workspace would help you be happier — as well as more productive —  in your professional life.

Get Organized and Get a fresh start: 

get organized
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There are so many benefits associated with turning over a new leaf. Here are just a few to consider:

  • A chance to reinvent yourself. Humans are not static creatures. You’ve probably learned and changed quite a bit since you first started working at your job. A fresh start gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself. It allows you to step more fully into the newest and best version of yourself rather than staying stuck in old habits and patterns.
  • Clearing the mental cobwebs. Part of the process of getting organized for a new year involves taking an inventory regarding where you are right now. You’ll assess where you’ve been, what’s working and what isn’t and where you’d like to go. This process clears the mental cobwebs, so to speak, and helps you get on track with your authentic vision and goals for your career.
  • A restart in your professional relationships. When you get organized and have a sense of renewal, the people you work with will reap the rewards, too. Whether you approach projects differently, upgrade your office space or just feel better, your professional connections and your relationships will benefit from the efforts you invest in this process.

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Get organized with these tips: 

get organized
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Small changes can create big shifts in the way you work and feel. Here’s a short multi-step process you can use to help you get organized:

1. Relax

Before you even begin the process of reorganizing, you’ll want to get into the right mindset. If you’re feeling tense and rushed, you won’t get as much out of the work as you would otherwise. So, make a point to begin by relaxing and calming your mind.

One great way to start to slow down and get in the right headspace for this process is to step away from your screens for just a little while. Taking even an hour to do something more calming, like meditating or reading a book, rather than navigating technology (computers, phones and iPads all count) can help you to relax and settle your mind.

The big idea here is to slow down enough that you’re feeling positive and ready to focus. Taking a vacation, or even just some time for self-care, can go a long way, too. But, that doesn’t always feel possible. So, at least take a mini-break from stressful tasks for an hour or so. Give yourself a chance to relax so that you can dive into this work earnestly.

2. Define your vision

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One of the most difficult but important steps in getting organized doesn’t involve any physical effort at all. The heavy lifting here happens between your ears. Setting your intention is a big part of making things happen.

Ask yourself what you want to accomplish in the year ahead. What kinds of work will you do and how will you do it? How will that work benefit others both within your organization and in the larger world? Begin to plan and define your vision for the future of your career.

Taking stock of where you’re going, and where you’ve been, is key. But, don’t get too bogged down in this process. You could go all out and make a list of your goals for the year ahead or even create a career vision board. (Don’t knock the idea until you’re tried it. It has the potential to yield real results.) But, you could also just come up with one word or phrase to describe your hopes for the year ahead.

You want to have a vision for the future before you start the process of changing your physical space or even organizing your materials. Otherwise, you’ll just fall into old patterns.

3. Move furniture

Once you have a vision of where you’d like to go, it’s time to start thinking about your space. It’s easy enough to straighten up your desk, but that won’t give you the full new-year reboot you’re aiming for. So, consider taking things a step further. A lot of folks don’t think about making big changes to their office often enough. Moving the furniture, or even just changing the orientation of your desk, if that’s what space allows, can make a huge difference in both your mindset and the way you carry out the duties of your workday.

If you have any natural light available to you, be sure to take advantage of it. Also, consider your goals when planning your arrangement. How many chairs should you have available? Can you create different spaces or areas within your office for accomplishing various tasks? Even if you don’t have much space, you still have options. What’s important here is to designate sections of the space intentionally.

Consider making a quick trip to an office supply store. Using folders, caddies or trays to organize desk drawers and the larger space can help you get organized, too. If you keep the horizontal areas clearer, you’ll be able to jump into projects more efficiently which will save time and energy in the year ahead.

Finally, be sure to allow plenty of room for passage through your space and between important areas.

4. Deep clean

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Don’t skip this step! You’ll feel much better about your newly reorganized space if it’s also fresh and clean.

Even if someone else cleans your office regularly, there are still a few things you ought to do yourself. First of all, tidy up around and underneath anything that you moved. You probably kicked up some dust in the process, so clean the horizontal spaces, too. Attending to long-neglected areas, like the bottom of your desk drawers, won’t take as long as you think. And, taking care of these details and doing a real deep cleaning can go a long way toward giving you the feeling of a fresh start.

As you clean, imagine your cleaning up your mind, too. Remind yourself that you’re letting the past go and beginning anew.

5. Rethink your systems

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Think about how you organize your work and projects. Are your current systems as efficient as they could be? Do they make sense for the kind of work you’re doing these days? Maybe you’ve been organizing your computer files or folder system the same way for years but some changes would make more sense and be more up to date. Perhaps you’ve always organized the piles on your desk by when things are due, for example. But, you may discover that it now makes more sense to have different stacks for types of projects or groups of clients.

Be sure to think back to the vision and goals that you set for the year ahead and make sure you’re organizing your systems to accommodate those objectives.

6. Rethink your schedule

One surefire way to renew the way you feel about your job is to freshen up your schedule. You might not have the option to make a big change, like telecommuting a couple of days a week or changing your hours. But, it wouldn’t hurt to have a conversation with your manager about these options if you really think they would help you to be more productive and effective. You may be surprised to learn that you have more flexibility than you thought.

You can also employ simple changes within your regular day-to-day routine. For example, you might resolve to stop checking your email first thing in the morning and get started with your top priority of the day at that time instead. Or, maybe you’ll decide to stop eating lunch at your desk in the year ahead.

7. Appreciate and enjoy

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Once you’ve completed your office overhaul take a moment to appreciate your accomplishment.

Celebrate and enjoy your new space. Add a couple of finishing touches like pictures or other beloved objects that will make you smile when you see them in the new year. Bring in your favorite tea mug for home so that you’ll enjoy your mornings in the office a little more. Or, better yet, buy yourself a new one so you can keep one in both places.

Consider placing a few playful touches around your space like small games that visitors can fidget with or maybe a favorite book that doesn’t have anything to do with your job. Then, kick back and spend some time enjoying your new space. Imagine all of the wonderful things you’ll learn and do in your office in the year ahead. Celebrate how far you’ve come and know that you’re ready for the professional adventures that lie ahead.

Thinking about changing jobs in the new year? Find out how much you could be earning. Take the PayScale Salary Survey and get a free salary report in minutes.

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