Guest Article by Marsha Sims
Disorganization isn’t just an inconvenience; it can create undue stress and drama in our lives, costing both time and money. According to experts, the average professional spends 150 hours a year looking for lost and misplaced information. Starting today, let’s stop the drama, and organize our lives. Here are some solutions to stop this from being a problem.
All it takes to get, and stay organized, is a well-executed plan of action. Your plan has to contain the things you will do “before” you start organizing, things you will do “during” the organizing process, and the “after” items, or things you will do to maintain the organization you have created.
Before you begin any organizing project, stop… and think about what you want the end result to look like. Is an important client coming over? Maybe the end result you are looking for is for your desk to be cleaned off and your office to look neat. Is your office visually a mess? Maybe the end result you are looking for is efficiency. You can’t find anything in your files? Maybe the end result you are looking for is to have everything in a “find-able” format. Whatever your end result is, think about it before you begin your organizing project. Write it down. Create a measurable and attainable drama-free goal.
During your organizing time, make sure you have needed supplies on hand. If you are organizing a messy office, have boxes available to store items you don’t know where to put right now. Have a dust cloth available to dust shelves. If you are setting up files, make sure you have enough file folders and labels available. Nothing is more annoying than starting an organizing project and having to stop mid-stream to go and buy supplies.
After your project is complete, your office is neat and your files are organized, make sure you keep it up. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, or how much money you spend to get your office organized, if you never file another piece of paper it will revert back to its pre-organized condition. I recommend using the last 15 minutes of your workday to stop and make your office look the way you want it to look when you walk back in.
Here are 10 tips for getting your office organized before, during and after, and keeping it that way.
1. Begin with the end in mind. Think about how you want your project to end up before you start.
2. Decide on a time to work on your organizing project. Put it in your calendar like another appointment, and make a commitment to yourself to keep it.
3. Make sure you have the supplies you will need on hand before you begin.
4. To begin, stack all loose papers in one or two neat piles to create the illusion of order. It is much easier to work in a neat space than in a cluttered space.
5. Re-arrange equipment, supplies, and files in your work space according to their frequency of use. Put things you use often nearby. Things you use infrequently can be stored farther away.
6. Make good decisions about what you need and what you no longer need. Consider that clutter is costing you time and money, and eliminate things you don’t need.
7. Use a “system” for filing your papers away. Don’t take a haphazard approach and put things in a spot “just for now.” Put things where you will look for them again.
8. Sort loose papers into the following categories: “things to-do” “to read” “to file” “to sort” “for others.” Once every paper is sorted, handle each category separately.
9. Set up a simple desktop area for mail to be sorted each day.
10. Use the last 15 minutes of your workday to straighten up. This will allow your office to look nice when you walk back in the next day.
Marsha Sims, professional organizer, national speaker, and author of bestseller: “Organizing Your Day: Time Management Tips that will Work for You,” is the founder and president of Sort-It-Out, Inc. professional organizing service.