After multiple days off during the holidays, most of us amble back into our offices only to find that the half-eaten collection of Christmas cookies and piles of paperwork are right where we left them. Starting the year on a positive note can be difficult when you can’t even find your pen. It’s no surprise then that January is National Get Organized Month.

In 2005 the National Association of Productivity & Organizing designated January ‘Get Organized Month’ to not only increase awareness of their organization but to emphasize the benefits of keeping an orderly and clean workspace. Here are a few tips we’ve assembled to help you get more organized in 2019:

Clear the clutter. Studies have shown that we spend 10 minutes each day looking for lost items.  That’s about 2.5 days a year. And how you keep your desk organized can save a lot of time. Most-used items, like pens and paper clips, can go on top of the desk, while less-used items like the tape dispenser and stapler should go in a drawer.  The less clutter, the better.  That means go easy on the post-it note reminders and get rid of the knick-knacks. We all think it’s great you like Star Wars, but the Death Star pencil holder isn’t doing you any favors.

Keep some white space. Make sure you keep a paper-sized cleared area on your desk on your dominant side so that you can review or sign documents.

Reduce the pile. That pile of papers isn’t going to get smaller, so you might as well go through it. Get some manila folders and organize each associated piece together. Recycle or shred the ones you no longer need. And if there are documents that still need attention, place them in your inbox.

Clean up your email inbox.  We’re all guilty at some point of letting our email get away from us. According to research done by the McKinsey Global Institute, more than one-quarter of a worker’s day on average is spent answering and reading emails. Learn to delete spam emails as you receive them and create folders for important ones. Dedicate certain times of the day to read and sort emails rather than interrupting your workflow multiple times a day.

Pay more bills online.  Much of the mail we receive these days are bills and statements, and not only can they create clutter and disarray, but they can also become sources of late fees and penalties if they aren’t taken care of in a timely manner. Paying bills online has never been easier, with many banks offering free bill paying services as part of their checking accounts.

We hope these tips can help get your National Get Organized Month off to a productive start, so you can spend time on more important things.