There are Random Piles of Paper Everywhere. Send Help.
I have learned that there are two types of people in this world: Those who mark every email in their inbox as "read" and those who have a little red notification bubble on their mobile inbox icon that says "139,294". Years ago, when conducting interviews for an administrative assistant position, I jokingly said to a coworker, "We need the kind of person who has zero unread emails."
Now, there's nothing wrong with being either type of person! Our differences are what make the world go 'round. We can't all be Type A organisational freaks. If we were, the world would be a pretty scary (well-oiled, but still scary) place.
As I happen to very much identify with the former, I thought I'd write down some tips to help you organise your space if you are finding yourself constantly lost in mountains of unorganised paperwork (seriously, where IS that file? I had it in my hand 4 minutes ago), your desk has not one spec of clear space, and you have fifteen thousand unread emails in your inbox.
1. Clean as you go. This is something I learned in Hospitality school that stuck with me! Truly, when I'm cooking dinner, I repeat this mantra in my head to help remind myself, and have so much less mess to clean at the end of the night. This can be applied anywhere though. If you just clean and put away as you use things, your stuff won't get messy or lost! This will take some practice to train yourself, and shoving things haphazardly into a drawer doesn't count. ;-)
2. Backup. I never knew the importance of backing up your documents until my computer crashed before "the cloud" existed and I lost everything years ago. It was terrible. Now, backing up is super easy with cloud-based storage. I highly recommend that everyone does this! For a small fee, your precious files will be safely stored each day. I use Carbonite myself and love it!
3. Save your passwords in one spot. Do you feel like you never remember your password because every website has different requirements? ("Must be 12 characters long, and contain a special character but not !* or %.") There's apps (such as LastPass) you can get that will keep all of your passwords in one place, so you don't have to reset your password every time you log in.
4. Stop it with the post-it notes. They're really tempting to use, but they are the worst. My archenemies. They are barely sticky, and are just asking to fly off of your computer at the smallest breeze from the fan across the room, into the abyss, never to be heard from again. I use a notebook (or a note in my phone) and keep all of my important notes-to-self there, sorted by date. You can even get some different coloured highlighters to remind yourself of how time-sensitive the note is.
5. Only keep urgent and current items on your desk. If you've paid that bill and don't need to look at it again, don't set it behind your computer in the "paid bill pile". File that sucker away (in a folder that is organised by date so you can find it one day again if you need it.) Keeping 1 tray on your desk of things that need to be completed, and then removing them from that tray and filing them is the simplest way to do this.
And finally, if you really just cannot even begin to fathom having to do any of these things, feel free to reach out to me for more tips, or if you're local, I'll come to your office and do it for you. Either way, you've totally got this!