Improve your office organization and avoid piles and files!
Improve your office organization – There are recurring themes that I have seen as a small office consultant for over the years. I will outline how to best approach a common challenge – too much visible paper! It can be overwhelming and interfere with productivity.
When I’m invited to assist in a small office, there are often piles of paper. They may be in neat little piles or larger stacks of different sized papers. These piles represent “delayed decisions” to me. People simply don’t know what the heck to do with them.
To improve your office organization, we’ll begin by discussing how old the piles of papers are at this point. Are there any papers that must be kept? Pull those from the piles. It works well to store some of the older papers in a box, and move them out of the way. We will even put a “best before date” on each box – that’s a date that the client will be willing to throw it out. It works wonders!
Then, it’s time to decide on a paper path that makes sense in your own office. This could include rearranging the furniture. A clear sense of the path (or highway) that papers will take through your office is a big improvement. It will guide you to know what you’re going to do with any new papers that enter your office.
Next, plan suitable categories for the files in your office – on paper. This means different things in each office. There are logical categories that will make sense to you in your business. Consider where you will look for the files you’ll want – and create that category or file structure.
If you already have a filing cabinet set up – is it actively in use? It may be a good idea to purge the files in the drawers first – to create room for the office files. Sort the remaining files in the filing cabinet into the new categories you have created.
A useful tool that can help you find files faster is to use coloured files for different categories. You may want to use yellow files for your clients, red files for developing new projects, green for your financial files, or blue for your administrative files. There is a rainbow of colours available in the stores.
It’s also very important to have a front section for “hot files”. These are active files that you work with daily. It works well to have these within reach of your phone. They can be on top of your desk or in the front section of your file cabinet.
It takes time to organize your piles and files. It pays off – in more time – when you don’t have to search for those lost papers! This clean up effort can save you up to one hour per day, and that amounts to 250 hours per year – a ten-day holiday!
Get the support you require to make this happen in your own office.
Top 10 steps to improve your office organization.
1. Remove older piles of paper to a box with a “best before date”
2. Plan a file category or structure that meets your needs
3. Purge the files already in the cabinet
4. Plan which coloured files make sense to you
5. Plan a path (or highway) for your papers to follow through your office
6. Choose some music to entertain you as you file
7. Block off some focused time and enjoy
8. Establish hot (or active) files near your phone
9. Call for help if these steps are too tough alone!
10. Reward yourself for accomplishing a big job!
Elizabeth Verwey of Small Office Mentors guides people to become more effective in their time and space management : www.officementors.com. Her book, “The Mentors Circle – Clearing your path to business growth”, was published this year and is useful for sales teams : www.mentorscircle.com. Elizabeth lives in Toronto and can be reached at (416)-463-1713.