Like many optimistic people, I find myself starting another year with the same mantra, “it’s time to get organized!” Yet, a few antibacterial wipes and a neatly stacked pile of papers later, I inevitably find the clutter compiling around my workspace.
A sticky note here.
An old memo there.
Wait, how long has this sandwich been sitting here?
If this sounds anything like you, maybe it’s time to start thinking a bit differently about getting organized. Here are five unusual tips for getting organized, staying organized and finally keeping that old familiar new year’s resolution:
Become a Graffiti Artist
Go ahead, write on the walls! Sticky notes can serve as helpful reminders for busy folks, but they come with their own risks. In addition to the possibility of the notes unsticking and becoming lost, the mental anxiety that comes with seeing a workspace covered in a rainbow of alerts can be overwhelming. Instead, consider creating a white board or chalk board on a prominent wall of your workspace. This will allow you to easily update and edit what’s being posted, while avoiding unnecessary clutter.
Longest. List. Ever.
Start writing down an inventory of every single thing in your work area; every pencil, every piece of paper, every picture and everything in between should be included. After a few minutes, you might notice that this list is getting pretty lengthy – that means you’re doing it right! The idea is to shock your system into realizing how much unnecessary clutter is clogging your workflow, allowing you to easily identify the pieces you can get rid of.
Get in the Zone(s)
Once you’ve identified and removed the things you don’t need anymore, it’s time to organize what you do need to work efficiently. Rather than thinking of this process in terms of drawers and shelves, why not start designating zones? One area can act as a professional library, another area can serve as an office supplies storage area; the trick is to use a layout that works best for your day-to-day activities, with the things you use most often being placed closest to you.
Time is Money
When it comes down to it, getting organized is all about making better use of your time. After dealing with the tangible clutter at your desk, it’s time to take on the tick tock of the clock! With so many distractions in a day, it’s easy to let your time get disorganized in a hurry.
To avoid this, consider taking on a structured method to completing projects, such as the Pomodoro Technique. This technique, created by time management expert Francesco Cirillo utilizes a simple digital tool known as the Tomato Timer to break down tasks like so:

  1. Pick a project
  2. Set the timer for 25 minutes
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings
  4. Take a short break (10 minutes)
  5. After every four sessions of 25 minutes of work, take a longer break (20-30 minutes)

Half of the battle is just realizing the time being wasted by jumping from project to project and not digging in for a meaningful stretch of time on any one responsibility. By better organizing your time, your day and workspace will follow suit.
Email is the Enemy
Get rid of all of the emails in your inbox right now! Digital clutter is just as distracting as physical clutter. Think of the feeling you get when you start the day staring down an email inbox a mile long; the stress that comes with using an email inbox as your daily to-do list simply is not worth it. Instead, work within your email system to designate automatic alerts and sorting for specific types of emails. Even if the emails are still somewhere else, the mental peace that comes with a clean inbox and a little automation is worth the extra effort at first.
Before your desk is lost under a brand new pile of scattered stress, take action by thinking about organization techniques in a new way. Do you have any unusual ideas for staying organized this year? Please post your ideas in the comment section below.