Organize your office and watch productivity rise

Take a good look at your office. Are there stacks of papers? Piles of correspondence? Filing that you failed to do? Not to worry, many of us have the same problem. However, with increased organization, there will be increased productivity.

The theme for today will be sorting. Sort, sort, sort, everything in the office and you will eventually end up with a clear desk and organized working space. We get attached to things, even papers, and it can be hard to part with them. But, once your office is organized, you will see that you spend less time searching for lost papers and more time doing your work.

If you have a large desk – you may have a large mess. If possible, downsize to a medium to small desk. If you have a file drawer in the desk, make sure you remove the older, non-active files to make room for your current and active files. Having them at your fingertips is key. Try to keep the desk clear of most papers, except what you are currently using. Everything else should be sorted.

You will need to have the right equipment. A file cabinet or two will help keep everything organized. File folders and hanging folders are a must. Labels are a huge help for identification. Never keep folders without any identification on them. You will end up rooting through all of the folders to find the right one.

Try to find a place to put everything. Pens, paper clips, staples, tape and other supplies should not just be swept into a drawer. Get dividers for the drawer to keep everything in its own place.

Your computer, phone, business card file and any other essentials will become your command center. Make your command center ergonomic. Keep a plastic file box or inbox with often-used files close at hand.

Create a “to do” or “work in progress” file folder. Invoices that need to be paid or anything else that needs attention can go in this file. Another file is for “waiting.” If you are waiting for instructions before you can complete a task, it goes in this file.

Evaluate each piece of paper in your office. This may be tedious, but once you do it and stay on top of it, it will become easier. Do you write things down on scraps of paper that tend to pile up? Can you toss it? Is there action required? Can you file it? Are you waiting for a call or email regarding it? Is it part of an ongoing project? Set up files for each category, shred and/or recycle the paper if you have addressed the issue.

Ask yourself if anything can be scanned to avoid keeping the physical papers. Purge your file cabinets at least once a year and move whatever you can into long-term storage. Old tax papers from previous years can be moved into a cardboard file box and put away so there is more room for active files.

Organize your bookcase if you have a lot of books, files or other information there. Magazine boxes can be inexpensive or fairly deluxe, but will keep your publications free of dust and dirt. Organize them by publication date and find what you are looking for easily.

Once bills are paid or other action is taken, file the information away immediately. In just a few minutes a day the filing can be done. The longer you wait to “catch up,” the more clutter will accumulate.

Try hard to avoid keeping things to “just in case.” Everything you keep should be important. If the file, paper or publication is not valuable, it is time for the recycle bin. Free yourself of the office clutter and get things accomplished.

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