Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 1

March 26, 2013

Clutter and Disorganization: Paper Chaos in the Office – Part 1
In 1995, experts made the prediction that by 2005 we would be the “paperless society.” Have you looked around your office lately? Is it paperless? Unless you have been scanning everything into your computer and shredding day and night, the answer is a resounding “NO!” In fact by 2005, it was estimated that there was 50% more paper being generated than there was in 1995 and that was eight years ago!!

Disorganization costs businesses valuable time, money and energy every day. The time that is wasted each day in the workplace is estimated to be between 30 minutes to two hours per person. In some cases it can add up to more than 150 hours a year. Time that is spent looking for “stuff” as a result of disorganization definitely detracts from an employee’s ability to concentrate, focus on what is really important, and know how to prioritize their work.

If piles of papers are overwhelming your office, it is time to make a date with yourself to get organized. Having decided to tackle this monumental task, the next question is, “Where do I start?” Before diving into the piles it is very important to set up a useful work space. The goal is to have a “home” for all your papers. Setting up a home base will greatly aid you when you are starting the sorting process, which can very easily become overwhelming to most people.

Create three areas, boxes or trays to hold the following:
• Inbox to capture all the paper coming into your office
• Outbox for a place to hold items leaving your office
• “To File” location for everything that needs to be filed

Set up a small desktop filing system to handle the immediate papers that bombard you every day. Be sure this system will hold your daily mail as well as follow-up papers. You can set up this system in a small plastic case that will hold a few hanging folders. This is not meant to be your entire filing system, just a stop-gap measure to help you deal with the mail as soon as it comes in. You can also use your desk drawer to set up this system. Keeping it at your fingertips is very efficient. You’ll be less distracted because you won’t have to jump up and down to go to a filing cabinet across the room.

Remember: convenience plays a huge role in getting organized – and if you make your system convenient to use, there is a better chance you will use it.

Labeling your hanging file folders with descriptions that mean something to you is another important part. You can say “To Pay,” “To Do,” “To Call,” or you can use more descriptive labels such as “Do it or Get Fired,” “Warm Fuzzies,” “Appreciation,” or “Someday, Maybe” folders. Either way you are trying to set up a process so that as soon as the mail comes, you make decisions and file the papers in this temporary system. An “Action” folder should be included to help you organize your action and to-do items.

To be continued – come back for more information in Part 2……………………………………

Using Your Brain Power to Overcome Your Clutter and Get Organized

March 20, 2013


Feeling Overwhelmed? Frustrated?
Join the crowd. Lately when I have met with new or prospective clients, those two words, “overwhelmed” and “frustrated,” come up all the time. People are reading organizing books, attending seminars or buying a new gadget to help them get organized. They are searching for an answer to their clutter and organizing dilemmas. If they just buy another piece of software, a new PDA or five more plastic containers, they’re convinced that will be just the thing to get them organized.

What they don’t realize is that each of us already owns the most powerful organizing tool they will ever need. What is that? Your brain! Getting organized begins with your mind. When you finally get to that point when you are tired of the mess, being late because you can’t find your car keys, or forgetting important meetings or appointments, and you decide you are going to change your situation, you are on your way to changing your life.

Many clients often hand me a stack of organizing books which they have accumulated over the years, hoping each one would give them the tip they needed to finally get organized. But just reading a book will not do it. You can’t lose weight by simply reading a diet book and you can’t learn to drive by reading a driving manual. You have to read, get some ideas and then try them out. Some ideas work and others don’t but you’ll never know until you try. Remember too that it takes between 21 and 30 days to convert a routine into a habit. Don’t give up too soon. Repetition is the key to success.

You have to identify and change the habits that are creating the disorganized part of your life if you want to get organized. Simplify your life as much as you can. A client recently bought a new Palm Pilot but then spent days not using it because she did not have the time to sit down and learn all the new features. She wanted a crash course in using it without spending time to learn it herself. When you buy that new Palm Pilot or piece of software or some other new gadget, remember that it comes with a manual on how to use it, but it does not come with a guarantee that it will make you an organized person overnight.

Only if you constantly work on your habits will you make a lasting and constant change. Think in terms of habit-based solutions as opposed to gadget-based solutions. When you maintain these habits, you will considerably increase your chances of getting organized and staying organized.

Since the average person spends 30 minutes to two hours a day looking for things in their office, think of new ways to do your work. People often can’t let go of their old way of doing something so they lose the opportunity to get rid of their frustration. Look for old ways of doing things that are keeping you from getting organized. Let them go and try something new!

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