Recently I have been spending a lot of time trying to get my home office into a state of total perfection, where I have everything I need to hand, and the atmosphere is one of calm efficiency. Obviously, this is a dream but one I aim to achieve one day. Anyway, I was thinking about how to best sort my desk when I thought back to a great blog post I wrote a few years ago about how I used to set my office up when I was still a full-time EA. It is super useful, especially as we all want to be more efficient and productive at work these days. I thought I’d share the blog post again with you today with a few technological updates. If you want to know how to make your desk space more efficient, you’ve come to the right place!
How to make your desk space more efficient
There are only so many things I can keep on our desk before it starts to look cluttered but I do use certain items of stationery on a frequent basis, so I do need to have them to hand. If you have a pedestal under your desk, I would highly recommend these objects are locked away from those with sticky fingers! I recommend having the following on or in your desk at all times:
- Pens and pencils. I prefer retractable pencils to write notes than a pen. I keep one good pen, preferably a fountain pen, for signing documents and a red pen for ticking things off my to-do list
- Highlighter pen. I don’t seem to use these much anymore but worth keeping handy
- Eraser. for correcting mistakes
- Stapler and staples. Always get the best stapler your company can afford and use the same brand staples as the stapler. I know this sounds silly but how frustrating is it when you can’t staple a few bits of paper together… trust me it will save you so much time having a decent stapler! My personal favourite? The Rexel Aquarius.
- Hole-punch. Again one to be stashed away in a locked drawer! Get a good, industrial sized hole-punch if you can.
- Scissors. This is another one for the locked drawer. I often wonder if scissors sprout legs during the night and make a run for it!
- Sellotape (or sticky back plastic!) You might not need tape every day but when you do you won’t be able to find any. If you have a drawer keep this in there rather than on your desk.
- Letter opener. Saves time and your fingers from getting paper cuts.
- Internal envelops. I go through dozens of these a week. Always handy to have on your desk.
- Ruler. This is a multiple use piece of stationery. It can be used to help reading data, drawing a straight line, measuring something and keeping naughty colleagues in check!
- Notebooks. I have one hardback A4 notebook for meetings and one A5 scrapbook for scribbles, doodles and messy thoughts.
- Post-it Notes and flags. I always buy the largest post-it notes in a variety of colours as I often write messages to myself and need the extra room! I use the small post-it index flags all the time as well.
- Calendar. For quick reference, I have a one sheet per day calendar block on my desk. There is also something very satisfying in pulling each day off and chucking it in the bin!
- Files. See my previous blog on my filing system.
- Calculator. I still use a calculator most days despite knowing how to use formulas in Excel!
I’m a big advocate of Assistants having their office equipment such as a photocopier, printer and shredder. We deal with confidential material all day, and it can be awkward sharing equipment with other members of staff. In addition to that as part of our role, we are always at one piece of equipment or the other, and it is a massive time saver if, for example, the printer is near our desk. The phone should be on the desk as near to your keyboard and computer screen as possible.
Essentials for your desk
Here are a few other random but essential objects I keep on my desk:
- A list of colleague’s phone numbers including my Director’s just in case I ever forget the extension when I am transferring a call.
- My iPhone charger which is on my desk but tucked away out of sight (for obvious reasons!)
- Recent copies of the company’s literature. This is kept neatly in an upright plastic magazine rack, and I cull out of date information every few months.
When organising your desk, I would spend a bit of time thinking about the tasks that you perform every day and the equipment you need to complete the work. It is vital that we have everything to hand so that we can start work immediately. I also think it is worth remembering that as you progress in your role, the tasks will change so do have a review of how you use your desk and change it around if you need to.