Office hacks

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[edit] Desk Organization and Territory

  • Do you spend your entire day inundated by visits from co-workers, whether for work purposes or social, only to find you haven't accomplished squat by the end of the day? Get a "Do Not Disturb" sign for your office door or cubicle. For one hour every morning when you first arrive (and - depending on your schedule - maybe the hour right after lunch), hang that sign up where all can see, and tend to your most pressing work. The first week or two, you will still be interrupted, but it usually works to point at the sign, while simultaneously continuing to work with your other hand. Be sure to keep your eyes on the work for proper effect - you have to maintain the "I'm really too busy with something important right now" look. When your hour is up, seek out the person, find out what they want, and tell them to approach you when the sign is not up. After about a week or two, everyone with two brain cells will get the idea and learn to leave you alone when they see the sign. Remember, though, no more than 1 hour chunks, no more than 2 times per day, and DON'T ABUSE IT to screw around or blow off people who are significantly higher in the office food chain. --TresWife 03:12, 28 Mar 2005 (EST)
    • We use flags in our office, red on one side (do not disturb unless urgent) and green on tuther. They are laminated and you write on them with a dry-wipe marker, so you can put on the reason, or when you will be free, e.g. "at Lunch", "Urgent report, come back after 3" - Sophia
    • Some phones have a "do not disturb" function, which means people get an engaged tone instead of going to voice-mail. Harsh, but can be useful. Alternatively, get a phone buddy who takes your calls and do the same for them. -- Sophia
    • If you get people interrupting you with a non-urgent query via phone or in person, then don't get into the query. Ask them to e-mail it to you so that you can deal with it when you have time. (or to delegate to someone else better suited).
    • We all have small dry-erase boards on our office doors. Most people have pre-written things like lunch, common meeting rooms, etc. I also wrote "Here but busy (make it good)" on mine, and nobody objected, even when it was marked for several hours one day. We have a small section at the bottom to which we can pin things, I've been pondering putting several business cards there for people who don't have paper to write down my extension or email address (which is also posted). Kraigus 15:16, 30 Apr 2005 (EDT)
    • It may also be the problem that you start conversations as a form of procrastination (I know I do). A solution would be to simply bring along an MP3 player or any music player (if your employer allows you to) and listen to that and hopefully the music will keep you attached to your work. --Sakurina 23:12, 19 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Another tip is to use your PIM calendar to schedule worktime, this way your calendar shows you are busy and people wont try to schedule you for toom any meetings. Just make sure you stick to it.javascript:insertTags('--Gibsonk 19:08, 26 May 2005 (EDT)',,);

  • I have a real problem with people leaving messages all over my nice clean desk and chair when I'm away. (I try and tidy up my papers when I'm not there as some of them are quite confidential). I also find people tend to spread out each new message in case you might not notice them in a pile! I recently had one person glue their message to my keyboard requiring a good five minutes of scrubbing to get the stickyness off. So I have now put a big sign up saying "Please put all messages in my intray, not on my desk. Anything on my desk goes in the bin." and it seems to be working. Apart from glue-girl :-( --Sophia 17:39, 17 Apr 2005 (EDT)
    • On the other hand if you do want to get an urgent message to someone, and they have a full intray or don't mind about papers all over their desk, put it on their chair. First thing most people do when they've been away from their desk is sweep all messages off their keyboard to read their e-mails, but they sit down first. It's just a matter of knowing what works best for different people. One person I find gets the message best if I write it on a colour 3x5 and prop it up on their keyboard, another likes to have text messages, and another never responds to e-mails but is always free to talk in person. --Sophia 17:39, 17 Apr 2005 (EDT)
      • I've had pretty good luck with that too, Sophia. We just moved to "everybody has an office" but when I was in cubeland, I found chairs were good places to put things, provided they were weighed down a bit. If I go for the keyboard, I put it *underneath* but mostly exposed. Kraigus 15:16, 30 Apr 2005 (EDT)

[edit] Interpersonal Relationships

  • Make a list of the people you call at least once a week and write them on a large A3 poster above your desk. Don't forget the name of their PA as they'll probably take the call. Stick the numbers on there and you be able to dial straight off each time without having to remember any numbers. -- Sophia
  • Team up with your coworkers to purchase sodas and snacks in bulk from Costco, then divvy them up, so you won't waste your money in the vending machines. -- GH 24 Mar 05
  • An alternative is to buy a mini refridgerator (4 cubic feet, common in college dorms) and stock it with sodas. Put a cup on top and a sign that says 50 cents (or whatever). Stock it with soda you buy by the case and you'll make some nice pocket change. Remember to empty out all but a couple dollars (for change) every night or two. --Patik 20:15, 27 August 2006 (EDT)


[edit] For personal assistants / executive assistants

  • If you're a PA taking calls for your boss a quick rule of thumb: If they ask for your boss by name but won't give any reason and won't let you take a number for him to call back and say "I'll try and catch them later in the week" it's a cold call from a company. If you cold call me for my boss (I'm a PA), and don't give me a reason then I'm not going to put you through, if it's important you would want him to call back, and he's normally triple-booked in meetings so you won't catch him. If you want to get through, ask to speak to the PA, not the boss, explain what you're selling and ask who would be best to speak to. They can normally tell you straight out if they're not interested, and point you in the right direction if they are. -- Sophia

[edit] Office Equipment

  • Does your employer's time clock work by scanning a bar code? If so, keep a photocopy of the barcode in your desk to use in case you forget your time card. You'll skip the hassle of filling out a correction form for payroll. -- GH 26 Mar 05

[edit] Cleanup

  • Have a Big Office Trash Day every six months -- not just for documents that need no longer be retained, but for Everything. We bring in big recycling and trash bins and go through every drawer, every closet, every nook & cranny of the office. Everyone dresses down, pizzas are ordered, and anyone who has filled up at least one trash bin and one recycle bin gets free lunch.--J.T. Boofle 00:02, 5 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Sometimes I feel uneasy about throwing away documents, even though they are unlikely to be needed again (a paid electricity bill, for example). I found it useful to have a dead archive for that. I just throw those documents there, store it for a few months once it's full and then throw it away. (or destroy it).
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