The first week in August is “Simplify Your Life Week.” At work, this can be done by organizing one’s work space. Some steps that a professional can take to get organized include:
Pitch the clutter. If something is no longer needed, throw it away, or better, recycle it. Old office equipment that is no longer used can be donated if it is still in workable condition. As for excess paper around the office, people can trash such things as old memos from departed employees or take-out menus from restaurants that are no longer in business. If a document must be kept, like a memo from the boss, keep one copy in a specific file in a file cabinet.
What’s in store? It does no good to say that people should file things if they don’t have a good system for doing so. Each employee should have an office filing system that works for them; then they should stick to it. If something is supposed to be filed in a specific department (such as personnel records with human resources), those documents need to be routed there. When creating a filing system, clearly labeled folders will make it easier to locate items. A label maker is a cheap investment that will save time and money in the long run. Not only should file folders be labeled appropriately, but clearly labeling file cabinets and file boxes used for archiving old documents is helpful.
Turn “to-do” lists into “got-it-done” lists. To make “to do” lists more manageable, workers can create file folders for all projects and make sure that information for specific projects is filed accordingly. If the project is big and has a lot of materials associated with it, one can make a bin or a file box specifically for that project. Then the bin can be taken to meetings related to that project.
Keep it clean. Ending each day by clearing off one’s desk is a good way to stay organized. Desk clearing should be a to-do list item. By setting an hour aside at the end of the work day to clean their desk, an employee may find items they need to act on before leaving for the day. One way to help keep a desk clear is to follow the “one-touch rule” when it comes to paper. With each piece of paper that an employee receives, they should read it, then either throw it away, act on it immediately or file it. The last resort would be to put it in an inbox for later action. Better yet, creating a folder labeled “pending” will serve as a reminder to the employee to revisit this folder from time to time for items stored for later action.
Make friends with technology. Employees should also handle email by using the one-touch rule. When it comes to scheduling of appointments or managing contacts and to-do lists, online organizers are great tools. There are also apps that people can download to their mobile devices that can assist in workplace and lifestyle organization (available for download for iPhone or Android). Many mobile apps, PC and Mac applications have productivity tools with built in reminders that users can set to manage deadlines and make sure they are on time for important meetings.