One Way to Increase Your Productivity: Keep What You Need Close

Each day, we have the same amount of time to do what we set out to accomplish. We can’t create any more time, and there also has to be enough time to rest and do other activities outside of work. It makes sense, therefore, to use the time we do have for work as productively as possible. The more efficient you are, the easier you will make your daily work for yourself. Every second that you can save in your everyday routine will add up and contribute to more useful time overall.

One way to be more productive is to keep everything you need, both digitally and physically, close at hand and easily accessible. Knowing where everything is located and being able to find it with no wasted effort will save you tremendous time. Suppose you spend an average of one minute a day looking for documents or any tool you need to do your work. Of course, this amount of time is on the lower end, as we generally waste much time searching for lost emails, files, or sorting through pens that don’t work. If you work 250 days a year, that is four hours a year you spend looking for lost items. Now suppose the average goes up to five minutes a day– that adds up to over 20 hours a year.

[Photo: Carl Heyerdahl/Unsplash]

[Photo: Carl Heyerdahl/Unsplash]

What You Need

We can’t work straight through for eight hours a day. A break for a minute here and there spent reaching out for an office supply we need might not seem like it will make a big difference. However, if we want to take a break, it’s better to take one that is relaxing rather than one that is spent in a frustrating search for something that should be at the tips of our fingers from the beginning.

Take stock of everything you need to complete your work. Then, organize those tools so that they’re close to you whenever you need them. The closer your supplies and files are to you, the easier they are to find. Some of the items you can take into consideration are:


  • Files: if you need to work on something temporarily or for a short period, work on it from your computer’s desktop. This way, it will be more obvious when you are done that it needs to be deleted or filed away. Everything else should be in their designated folders.

  • Emails: organize them by folders, and respond to, delete, or archive your emails within a 24-hour period (How to Keep Your Inbox Clean…For Good).

  • Passwords: use a password manager to organize all your passwords. It will also log you in instantly to all your favorite and frequently visited sites (10 Simple Methods to Increase Professional Productivity).

  • Shortcuts on your browser: place shortcuts on your browser for the websites you use the most for work purposes. If you need to go to a site to log into your bank account, for instance, save the URL address that takes you directly to the login page as opposed to the main bank website. Every single click you save adds up.

  • Apps: organize the apps on your phone. Delete the ones you don’t need and place the ones you use the most in the front of your screen.

[Photo: Tim Wright/Unsplash]

[Photo: Tim Wright/Unsplash]

Your Physical Space

Physical supplies and files should be within immediate reach. Keep only the ones you need and remove those that no longer help. What do you need at hand, and where should it be placed? Common supplies and tools are:

  • Cell phone: select a consistent place to keep your cell phone while you work. 

  • Office phone: keep a list close by of the numbers you call the most. Also, the phone should be within reach so you can quickly answer or make a call.

  • Office supplies (paper clips, stapler, pens/pencils, calculator, notebooks)

  • Business cards

  • Snacks and water

  • Earphones

  • Cellphone charger: it can be placed close to you so that you can charge your phone and still work with it if need be.

  • Files: they will be ideally organized by category and within easy reach. Once a year, it’s a good idea to purge old files which are no longer useful.

[Photo: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash]

[Photo: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash]

Make it More Efficient

Select the best place for the supplies and tools you use most for work. Ideally, you should be able to reach for these things in a movement that you don’t even have to think about and automatically find what you are looking for. Once a designated location has been found, unless you discover a better spot, keep the item where it is. You will develop routines and habits around these items and will automatically start saving precious seconds of every day.

Clutter makes everything harder to find. I recommend removing items you no longer need as often as you can. Some items may no longer work, and others may have outlasted their utility. Keep a bare minimum with spares of the supplies you need the most, such as pens. The cleaner your space is, the easier you will find everything whenever you need it.

As with anything else, entropy (The Important Role of Entropy in a Business) finds its way into our workspaces. We may have had a few tough weeks at work due to a strenuous project, and our desks get inundated with papers. Alternatively, perhaps someone gives us a set of office supplies as a gift, and we leave them on our desk in the way of other supplies.

Set up a routine in which you clean your personal space both digitally and physically. This habit will help ensure all needed improvements in organization are made, and your space is returned to its optimum state. You will continue to shave off seconds during your day and become more productive with the time you have at work.


Pamela Ayuso is an author and the co-founder and CEO of Celaque. She is a real estate entrepreneur and developer who has executive leadership experience in two of the most successful real estate developers in Honduras — managing operations at Alianza and leading Celaque. Celaque develops office and residential buildings and manages a broad portfolio of properties. Pamela’s focus is on growing Celaque into a model for the 21st-century company.

In addition to her role as CEO at Celaque, Pamela is the author of Amazon best-selling book, Heptagram: The 7-Pillar Business Design System for the 21st Century. She offers practical business and personal development insights for other entrepreneurs and business leaders on her blog and LinkedIn. Her husband and her three wonderful daughters inspired the story of her first children’s book, Alicia and Bunnie Paint a Mural.       

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