Organize Your Workspace for Maximum Efficiency

Think accessibility, and relax.

by Sylvia Partridge, CPC, CGSC
“A place for everything and everything in its place,” I always say. Organized workspaces allow for efficient workflows, which in turn can lower employee stress levels and increase productivity. Here are some tips to get you to that happy place.

Start by completely clearing out your workspace.

Use a large box to temporarily hold all of the items from your desktop and drawers. Now, sit at your empty desk and visualize how you would like it to function. The things you need most often should be the easiest to access and to put away.
When you have a clear vision of your new and improved workspace, replace each item one at a time, starting with the largest piece of equipment—for most of us that would be a computer monitor. If you have a small workstation, consider getting a desktop stand for your monitor so the space underneath is still usable. A stand also serves to raise your monitor up to eye level, which is more ergonomic—less neck pain and eye strain equals less physical stress.
To ensure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliancy, make sure to angle your monitor so no one else can see what is on your screen.
The next piece of equipment to put back is the telephone. When choosing a location, consider whether you are right- or left-handed. Position the phone so it is easily accessible to your dominant hand.

Arrange the contents of your desk drawers according to importance.

Keep items that you use every day in the upper drawers so they are quickly accessible. If you have a drawer for pens and pencils, separate them so when you reach for a pen you don’t pull out a pencil. The next drawer might be for stationery and envelopes. Keep only items that pertain to correspondence in this drawer.
As you arrange your work area, be sure to leave space to add new items without disrupting the scheme. You shouldn’t have to change everything to accommodate each new thing. Designate a specific area for items that need to be put away, so they aren’t misplaced.

Avoid the trap of thinking “neatness = organized.”

A better way to think of it is “functional and efficient = organized.” For example, you could argue that the “neatest” way to organize books on a shelf might be to line them up by size or color. But if you’re looking to find a book quickly, it’s better to categorize them by subject or alphabetically by title, etc. Neatness counts, but organization is more important.
Continue to empty your box in order of importance and usage frequency until you’ve removed all of the items. If there are things in the box that you don’t use very often (or at all), consider storing them somewhere other than at your desk, such as in a filing cabinet. Throw out what you no longer need.
Now, step back and admire what you have accomplished. It’s a good feeling when you can look at your workstation and know where everything is.

Stay organized.

The organization you just accomplished will only work if you put things back where they belong when you finish using them. This shouldn’t be a problem for you, however, now that there’s a place for everything, and everything is in its place.
Sylvia Partridge, CPC, CGSC, has over 42 years of experience in the medical field. She has been a general surgery coder since 1992 and works for Athens Regional Specialty Services, a hospital owned physicians group. She earned her CPC® in 2001 and spent a year teaching coding at a local vocational school. Partridge is a three-time past-president of the Athens, Ga. local chapter, and a member of the AAPC National Advisory Board.

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