Your Office- Does it Really Matter if it's Organized?
If you're single, being organized may not be as big a concern than if you are sharing a home office with your family. Whether you share an office at home or have one in the work place, if you aren't keeping it organized so it's easy to find documents and supplies, you will waste enormous amounts of time, money, experience frustration, and even get into a bind when not meeting deadlines, bills to be paid, greeting cards that never get sent, and many other tasks that need to be handled.
Another consideration whether it's a home office or place of business is what if something happens to you? You get sick or have an accident. It's not just about you and your stuff, but the effect disorganization will have on those that have to cover for you if something happens. I had a client who had to order birth certificates and other important documents multiple times for everyone in her family because she kept loosing them due to a very poor filing system. Funny thing is, we eventually found them all, but in various places. That turned into an expensive adventure, and there are many more examples like this area that cost my clients dearly.
How many times have I heard "but it's an organized mess and I know where everything is"? Well, maybe you do and maybe you don't. What about the others that need to find something in your office and can't? Even if you think being organized is no big deal, I just wonder how much time, money and frustration you waste because things are not where they belong. I've also heard complaints that it takes too much time to get organized. Again, how much time has been wasted looking for important documents and supplies because they aren't in their proper place? Once you get organized, it will be easy to stay organized as long as you put things where they belong!
For those who want to simplify their lives, have more energy and success, let's get started!
- trash container
- trash liners
- shredder (one that does confetti so your unwanted documents are chewed up in tiny bits)
- some empty boxes or large containers for sorting
- manila (I prefer colored ones) folders
- table or clear desk surface for sorting and dealing with papers and supplies
First, avoid zig-zagging all over the room or you will get confused on where you left off, and create an even bigger mess than you already have.
Start in one area, and work your way around the room doing one pile of things at a time. If you have to stop, leave yourself some kind of indicator or note so you are clear on where to pick up again when you return. You didn't get into this situation overnight, and you don't have to work till you drop to get out of it. Schedule time as much as possible and be diligent. You'd be amazed at how much you can accomplish in short periods of time when you stay at it - even if it's just 15 minutes a day! Don't get discouraged, and finish the job whether it's a day, a week, or a month. You will be delighted to pat yourself on the back once you see how wonderful it is to find your stuff easily and know where to put it back!
Also, if you enjoy a favorite beverage (non-alcoholic), or need a frequent bite, have something handy to keep you going. I love to work with music, but in the area of paperwork, that just interferes with clear thinking, so go for the coffee or whatever you enjoy to give you a little boost while you're busy.
SORTING is critical to getting organized!
- Trash goes in the trash container immediately upon discovery. When it's full, take it out of the room, put in a new liner, and continue.
- Shred - I can't say enough about the importance of shredding documents that could come back to haunt you. Identity theft is very real and through careless tossing, the bad guys are more than willing to go through the trash to avoid getting a job, and using your info to collect money from your accounts.
- Supplies - organize by the different types (pens, tape, staples, etc). There are many drawers organizers or small plastic/wood chests where you can put these items out of the way, and easy to find when needed. You will know when something needs replacing and also you won't need to buy bunches more of something you already have, but can't find or forgot you have because you didn't put it in a good place.
- Documents - there are many ways to sort and file documents. Your goal is to find and put them away without wasting lots of time. So you have to take a moment to decide what type of system will work for you. If you struggle with some documents in how to name them or file them, consider the first thing that comes to mind in where it belongs, and that's often the answer. I think if you have to consider more than 3 places, then it's definitely in the wrong place!
You may find the following suggestions useful, but no matter what, filing everything in ALPHABETICAL order is critical to avoid duplicate folders and misfiling!
- folders can be by the name of company or client (always last name first) and just file alphabetically
- have main subject hanging files labeling by type (insurance, banking, warranties, etc) and make sub-folders of each company/client and put within the hanging folders by their type
Another problem with paper is most people keep too much of it! You probably don't need another file cabinet for all these documents, but desperately need to purge. One way to keep purging down to a minimum, is don't file it in the first place unless you are absolutely convinced you must or want to keep it. If you do keep certain items for long periods of time, once a year do a general purge and toss or shred the oldest documents that you no longer need to keep. If you stay on top of it, you don't have to spend a lot of time and you won't outgrow your filing space. If not, you will have a fire hazard of paper.
Don't know what to keep, and what to destroy? This website has valuable info on that topic: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98513,00.html
When a space, drawer, cabinet is pleasing to the eye, it's more likely to stay in good shape. You colors, containers, folders that make you smile and give your space an aesthetic appeal. There are so many great organizing products now, so you can really spruce things up if you want. If you're on a tight budget, get creative. Pretty stationary or other type boxes can be turn upside down to use as drawer cubbies. Go to the clearance area of your office supply store to see if they have some goodies on sale that will work for you. Look around your home and think outside the box for creative ways to store things. You will love the way it can look, and you'll get compliments for being so cleaver.
ONE LAST THING...
Many people are daunted by this type of task, and really need the help and encouragement of a professional. I am happy do the work with you side-by-side, or if you prefer, I can do all the work for you.