A well organised office environment is part of being an efficient corporate-office worker, home-based worker or distance education student. Smart organisation saves time and helps with staying on top of essential tasks.
When setting up an office for the first time or remodelling your existing office, the goal is to create a clean, spacious environment.
Your office will be constantly under assault from mess and clutter. So it is important to establish an office that is clean and has plenty of space for work and storage. Whatever enters the work space should eventually find a home or be removed.
Here are 6 tips on how to set up your office for maximum efficiency—so you have more time for work and study.
How far you take this approach is up to you, but it is a sure-fire way of creating a clean space.
Take everything out of your office (if already have one) and put it in storage. Then only add to the office environment things that you find yourself needing or wanting to use.
The start-from-scratch approach guarantees your office is de-cluttered. It also means you don't have to remodel or set your office up all at once—it can be done gradually.
After cutting down your office stuff to the essentials, you need to decide where to keep them. Where you put things is important—you want quick access to the things you reach for the most.
If you use a lot of paper, give your desk a left-to-right work flow. Work comes in on the left, gets processed in the middle and goes out on the right. That way, your desk is clear for whatever comes along next.
Organise your desk drawers by importance. The things you use most often go in the closest drawer, everything else goes further away. For below-desk drawers, this means going from up to down.
If you really have too many useful things to fit on your desk, a solution is to enlarge your workspace (or at least add some extra storage).
There are a few tricks available beyond getting a new desk or moving to a bigger room. Think vertically to increase your storage space in a small room, such as by adding a tall bookcase. Make use of the space under your desk. Use every bit of space to your advantage—as long as it's organised, you'll be better off.
Everything in your office should have a "home"—the place where it resides when your workspace is clean.
If things don't have a home, your desk becomes a home for everything. For some reason, bare counters, desks and tables just beg for things to be placed on them.
A handy rule-of-thumb for keeping things clean is known as the breadbox test. If it's smaller than a breadbox, hide it away in a drawer or box. Each storage container should also have a theme so you know exactly where to find things.
Good office organisation is about speed and efficiency. The goal is to maximise time spent on core work and study tasks.
Just as it is counter-productive to have a disorganised, messy office, it is a waste of time to put hours and hours into office organisation. So you need to make quick, pragmatic decisions.
The best time to get really organised is when you have time off or early in the academic year. You can set things up well and develop good methods for staying organised. When things are busy, you'll then be able to concentrate on priority tasks.
If you finish each day with a clean office, it also means you start every day with a clean office.
A great habit is to do a little tidy up at the end of each session of work or study. It avoids a situation where mess builds up and becomes something you start putting off.
For people working and/or studying from home, it also helps separate work and study life—there is a clearer division between work/study and personal time.
One way of making tidying up a habit is to include it in your computer power-down routine. Start clearing and tidying your desk straight after clicking for your computer to shut down.
The set up of a student office for distance education is similar to a professional office.
Distance learning doesn't have any special requirements and the set up can be as basic as a desk and laptop. But it is important to have reliable home office tools.
Online students need consistent access to a computer and an internet connection. A printer/scanner device is also very handy and can normally be bought for $250 or less.
Doing a distance education course is a significant investment of time (and possibly money as well), so it is worth having a good quality computer. You don't need a computer with vast memory capacity though (such computers are better suited to gaming).
Distance education courses can be conducted mostly online or using printed text depending on the course.
It is common for universities to send out a large amount of study material in paper form, even if it is available online as well. Mailed material could include readings, printed study notes, CD-ROMs and DVDs.
It is also common for course content to be posted online each week. Your instructor might upload a podcast (recorded lecture), a set of readings, questions posed in a discussion board, an online quiz or a video. Online content is normally accessed by going to the course website and logging in.
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