Eliminate Office Chaos
By Laura Leist
does office disorganization cost your company? The Wall Street
Journal published a study indicating that the average employee
wastes nearly six weeks a year looking for information and things in
their office. Multiply six weeks by their salary and then the
number of employees in the company, and that is a lot of money!
relate to any of the following organizing misconceptions? If you
can, you’re not alone.
file it, I’ll never find it again: The key to a great filing
system is the ability to “retrieve” the information when you need
it. The act of “filing” the paper away is simple – the critical
step lies in how you categorize it so that you and others can access
hire an Office Manager / Office Assistant – they’ll get me
organized: Many managers and business owners become frustrated
after hiring an office manager or assistant because this individual
has done very little to help them get organized. In order for this
individual to be successful, there must be systems and processes
that they can follow on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Typically,
this person is not the individual that will “create” the systems or
processes but rather “maintain” them. In many cases, the individual
hired to work in this role may not have the background to develop
those processes or systems for you – yet they are excellent at using
the systems. It is critical that the Manager or Business Owner play
a key role in the development of these systems because most likely
they will be the ones using them long after the individual hired to
help them has moved on.
organized stifles creativity: We’ve all heard of “right brained”
vs. “left brained” individuals. Those that are “right brained” tend
to be more creative and thus disorganized. The fact of the matter
is that those that are “right brained” tend to be more “visual” and
therefore they like to see what they are working on – and thus much
of what they work on is out in the open. There is no right or wrong
way to be organized – it’s really about creating systems and
processes that the individual can maintain to be efficient and
productive. The work can be out in the open, as long as it is done
so in an organized fashion so that when the information is needed –
it can be retrieved.
neat and tidy is the same as being organized: It’s easy to take
a clean sweep off your desk top into a box, bag or desk drawer.
This puts a Band-Aid on the problem, but doesn’t find a solution.
In most instances, people desire solutions. The clean sweep may be
a temporary solution, but at some point you must face the underlying
matter what excuse you use for it, clutter in your office, whether
on your work surface or on the floor, can be extremely distracting.
If you’re used to working in this kind of environment, you may not
even be aware that the clutter is distracting you. It also causes
unnecessary stress, because the items lying around often represent
unfinished business. Having a system and a place to put things in
your office will help minimize the distractions and eliminate extra
stress. Here are a few tips to help you declutter your office:
Magazine Holders: use them to store
directories, software manuals, packages of computer software
labels, folders, user guides, packages of computer photo paper.
When placing on a shelf, you want to see the back of the holder
instead of the contents – it gives a clean look.
Computer Software: If you do not have an
IT department that stores software and the user manuals for you,
you’ll want to set up a system in your office so you can put
your hands on when you need it. Empty the contents of the boxes
and keep the software and manual. Be sure you also keep the
Product Key if not on the CD case or CD itself. User manuals
can also be store in a magazine holder, in hanging file in your
filing cabinet or even in a decorative box that sits on a
shelf. Software can be stored in a binder or a box designed for
To be Filed: Establish a location in your
office for papers that require no additional action but just
need to be filed. Don’t allow this location to accumulate items
that need action.
Receipts: Create a place for receipts you
must keep. Make a decision immediately if you need to keep it.
Most likely, if it is a business expense, you’ll need to keep
it. If you file an expense report – keep an envelope for the
period where you can place the receipts until you file the
report – so you don’t miss out on being reimbursed for
expenses. If you have your own business, be sure to label the
type of expense immediately – it will save you hours of time
later at tax time!
Names, addresses, email addresses and phone
numbers: Establish a location in your office where you’ll
keep these pieces of information until you have time to record
them in your contact management program or address book. Use a
folder that you keep close by or a small container into which
you toss the information. Better yet, record it immediately and
discard that piece of paper.
Bookshelves: When placing books on
bookshelves, try grouping them by category. Instead of standing
them all upright, try laying groups of books flat and stacked on
top of each other. Bookshelves don’t need to be full of books
from one end to the other. In between the groups, you can
display a photo or special treasure to break up the sections a
where to begin? Just pick one small area to start – and complete
that area. You’ll have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and
then you can move on to other areas of your office. It’s never too
late to enjoy the numerous benefits of working in an organized
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