5 changes make your workspace more productive

While you may not have the space of a CEO’s suite, there are a few things you can do to fix up your space that will improve your workflow.

1. De-clutter. The “file by pile” method might be easiest for you, but it does nothing to help your work. “The fact that you can remember where everything is skirts the point. Relying on your brain instead of a system for handling the clutter is more mentally taxing than necessary,” says Maura Thomas, founder of Regain Your Time, a company specializing in increasing productivity. She suggests filing, shredding and delivering documents every day; and giving your supplies a permanent home in cups, trays and bins.

2. Separate items that don’t need your immediate attention. Have an inbox outside your cubicle or at the end of your desk where colleagues can put documents that aren’t urgent, says Brandi Britton, a district president at staffing firm OfficeTeam.

3. Personalize your space. Don’t clutter your workspace with knick-knacks, but do add personal touches that allow you to own your space. “Display what brings you joy—a favorite photo, perhaps, or something that inspires you,” says Lisa Gessert, a professional organizer.

4. Decide what needs to be close, then store the rest. Keep only the materials you need for your current project out on your desk, Britton says. Once the assignment is completed, clear those things out. Supplies you use most often should be close by, and everything else can be stored out of the way.

5. Let others know when you need quiet time. When you’re knuckling down with an important project or on a phone call, hang or post a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside your space, Gessert says. If people ignore the sign, let them know you really mean it.