Are you frustrated with your office space? Do you hunt for a pen every time you put one down? Is the search for documents a half-day event? Is your paper filed chronologically – working your way down the pile to “one week ago” and unable to pull out “four months ago” for fear of a paper flood catastrophe?
Every office deals with an excess of paper and whether large or small, your business is suffering when you aren’t operating in an organized space.
So, how do you clear the clutter and gain control?
SPACE IS ESSENTIAL
The biggest problem with staying organized in an office is that people set up a system and don’t give themselves enough room to grow.
If you have spent the better part of a day cleaning out a drawer and replacing the items in organized, labeled files, but you can’t squeeze a single extra sheet of paper you’ve wasted your time and the unfiled papers will grow again.
Be certain to have at least a quarter to a third (more if possible) of growing room when implementing a system. You may need to change over at some point, but having some extra space will encourage you to keep up with the organizing.
This also goes for items such as architectural drawings or other products or documents you may accumulate.
Set aside time to purge unnecessary documents. Not only will this provide more space but will save you time that would otherwise be wasted looking through worthless paperwork.
SIMPLE FILING SYSTEM
Do not make your system too complicated or it will be hard to follow through. Color coding can be the easiest if you do not have too many categories. This is effective for systems which only require “Income,” “Expense,” “Projects,” “Correspondence” or something similar.
For filing of large groups of clients, projects or invoices, use a single drawer for each group of related files. A tall filing cabinet can even be divided into alphabetical or chronological systems.
For items you refer to daily or even hourly you might consider a posting board near your desk. This is a great idea for phone number lists, to do lists and appointment calendars.
A filing system is only as good as the upkeep. You may find it easier to have a small system of files located on or near your desk and daily or weekly transfer the items into their permanent home.
This also works for items which you need close at hand such as current project information or price lists etc.
STYLE OF FILING
Consider if you can realistically maintain a filing system. Perhaps labeled boxes would suit you better (especially if you tend to pile papers). The key is to find something you will feel comfortable maintaining. If papers are sorted and occasionally purged, your system will work.
EVERYTHING NEEDS A HOME
Everything MUST be assigned a home. By giving each item a place you will not lose pens, cell phones, glasses and so on. Don’t crowd the items or you will get frustrated. Recognize that all of your efforts will help you run your business more efficiently, and thus productively. Reward yourself for keeping the system working!