Twenty Ways to Become More Organized and Efficient at Work
Why get organized? Getting organized and reducing clutter in and around your office and work space can reduce stress, increase your efficiency and productivity, help stretch your work budget and create a better work environment for everyone involved.
- Reduce clutter and increase work space. Toss what you no longer use and organize the remaining office supplies on, in and around your desk into separate categories. If necessary, use desk and drawer organizers and/or small baskets and containers to organize your things. Store all items used daily within reach and those you are using less often, out of view and inside storage or file cabinets close by.
- Designate separate areas for ALL paperwork in and around your desk. These can include (but not be limited to).....an “Inbox”, “Outbox”, “Pending” and those waiting “To Be Filed”.
- Keep all “Pending” files together in one place.....in a file organizer on top of your desk (if you need to be reminded of them daily) or inside a separate file drawer that is kept within reach. Another way to store these files is to place them in the front section of each file cabinet inside a separate brightly colored hanging file folder next to any corresponding files. Once each pending issue has been taken care of, simply toss, shred or file the paperwork as necessary.
- Keep office supplies (used daily) in stock at all times. These items can include.....copy paper, tape, pens, highlighters, post-it notes, notepads, file folders, paperclips and ink cartridges. When your stock pile is starting to get low, let the person in charge of restocking supplies know what will need to be reordered (posting an ongoing shopping list near the supply cabinet can also be helpful).
- Use digital post-it notes for daily reminders: This will reduce the number of paper post-it notes placed in and around your office.
- Help important items stand out and be noticed. To help important file folders and post-it notes (digital or paper) stand out from the rest, use different colors, shapes and sizes. To help important information stand out on your computer and paper documents, try changing the font styles, sizes, boldness and colorsof each word or simply highlight those words when typing what you want noticed.
- Use a label maker. It’s a fact; clearly printed labels not only look more professional but are also much easier to read and quicker to find than handwritten ones. Note: There are many different makes and models on the market today so do your research before making a new purchase and find one that will work best for you. The better it works for you, the more efficient you will be. My personal recommendation.....the DYMO LabelWriter 450 twin turbo.....it’s user friendly and can handle more than one label size at a time.
- Keep the documents you plan to shred in one small file folder. Place newer ones in the back of the folder and move the older ones forward each time you add to the folder. When the file starts to get full and you are ready to shred, take the oldest ones from the front of the folder and shred a few at a time. Doing this will not only reduce the amount of times a day you shred your documents but will also give you a chance to change your mind and avoid accidental shredding.
- Update your filing systems often. Schedule in time (daily) to sort through and eliminate both computer and paper files you no longer need.
- Learn how to use the Microsoft Excel program. It is one of the most useful programs on the market today for organizing information.
- Don’t rely on your memory, write it down and create a To Do list. Separate your tasks into categories such as “Daily Reminders” (for each day of the week), “Do ASAP” (do as soon as possible), “Do Soon” and “Do Later” (for when time permits) OR if you prefer to have only ONE list.....prioritize each task by keeping the most important tasks written at the top or simply mark each task with a priority number (Example using a #1 - #5 priority scale: those marked #1 should be your first priority and those marked with a #5 can be done last).
- Don’t forget to add yearly tasks to your calendar. Whether you use a paper or digital calendar, don’t forget to add in reminders for those tasks you do only once a year. Those are the tasks most often forgotten and should be added in along with everyday reminders.
- Organize your passwords for easy reference. If you have more than a few passwords to remember, keep them written down and/or saved in a backed up computer file for easy reference and updating (Microsoft Excel is a great program for doing this). Be sure to back up your files often and/or keep a printed version stored in a lockable file cabinet or safe.
- Keep a list of business contact information updated and available at all times. Store this information in a computer program or file, back it up often and if necessary, make a paper copy as well. This can also be done using a simple Microsoft Excel file or any other contact organizing program you choose. Include all information such as name, address, phone number, fax number and any other pertinent information that may be helpful to you when speaking to that company or individual.
- Schedule in time for checking emails and deal with each one right away. Delete those you no longer need, respond to those you can, flag (mark as important) those you need to deal with soon and file those you need to reference again later into a virtual email folder. Example: You receive lots of emails containing coupons and special deals you may want to use in the future.....create a virtual folder and label it “Shopping Discounts” then drag all those emails you would like to keep and drop them into that folder for future reference. If you need further instructions on how to do this please check with your email provider.
- Keep written instructions available for computer programs, office equipment and complicated tasks done at work. These will not only remind you of how to do each one but it will also come in handy for anyone who may have to do your job while you are out sick or on vacation. Store these instructions on a computer file and keep the printed versions available at all times.Examples.....For computer programs: file instructions in a file labeled with the name of that corresponding computer program. For office equipment: post the instructions by the machine. For complicated office tasks: Solution #1: post the instructions on the inside of any file folder that may hold the corresponding paperwork needed to complete the task. Solution #2: Store all instructions in one simple file labeled “Instructions for Daily Tasks”. Solution #3: Post instructions on the wall where the task will be done.
- Get up and stretch. If you find yourself sitting at your desk for hours at a time, every so often give your body a break. Get up, move around and stretch. This will give both your body and your brain a much needed break and can help renew your level of concentration when you need it the most.
- Give yourself the gift of time. Can you give yourself a few minutes each day to relax and gather your thoughts? Can you afford not to? Schedule in a few minutes each day (even if it’s only five or ten minutes at a time) and use that time to relax, go for a short walk, grab a snack, meditate or have a cup of coffee or tea; whatever you enjoy most. If you are pressed for time, try to add this to your lunch break.
- Reduce your distractions. Before you leave for work each day, do your best to settle arguments, write yourself reminder notes, return phone calls, check your personal email and more. The more you take care of at home ahead of time, the less distracted you will be at work.
- Take time to organize yourself at work AND at home. This will help you reduce stress and clutter, save time and money and become much more efficient and productive in both places.
Article written by Christina Scalise, author of Organize Your Life and More
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