Getting and Staying Organized in the Office

Getting Organized

We’ve all been there. You’re on a conference call or in a meeting and everyone is kept waiting while you search through piles of papers for that one document you need. One study shows that on average, a person spends up to 4 hours a week looking for documents. Getting organized and staying organized is an easy way to save you time and frustration. Here are a few things you can do:

Maintain an Organized Filing System:

• Know what files you need to keep and which ones to toss. You do not need to hang on to all documents that come your way. Take a moment to review the content and toss or shred (documents with sensitive information) anything that is not relevant. As for how long you should hold on to your files, the IRS recommends saving your records for three to seven years. For old files that you may need to reference in the future, but not on a consistent basis, they can be boxed up and shelved or brought to a storage unit.
• Divide your files by category. Separating folders by bills, customer files, receipts, manuals, etc. makes searching for a folder that much easier. You could also color code the folders to make it that much easier to spot what you are looking for. Anything that has less than five documents likely does not need its own folder and can be put into a “Miscellaneous” file.
• Don’t overfill folders. Overfilling folders makes it much more difficult to find something in a bind. If you have a folder that is getting too crowded, consider creating sub folders. For example, if you have a folder called “Taxes” create additional folders called “Taxes 2013”, “Taxes 2014, and “Taxes 2015”.
• File your documents as soon as you are done with them. Often people get into the bad habit of throwing files on top of the file cabinet insisting they don’t have time to file it now or they will do it later. A week or two later there is a large stack of papers to file. Take the few seconds to file your documents right away instead of taking 45 minutes at the end of the week. You can easily pick two or three days a week to file for five minutes at the end or beginning of the day.
• At least once a year, do a thorough clean out of your file cabinets. Anything that no longer has a use (old/former customer files, manuals for machines you no longer have, etc.) should be thrown out or shredded. If you think you may need a certain file down the road but don’t want to waste space, scan and save the file on your computer.
• In order to save time in future years, keep a spreadsheet on your computer of the file labels that you use. These can be merged into a document and printed straight onto labels. At the beginning of each year, box up your previous year’s files, buy new folders, and create and organize all of your folders for the new year immediately.

Organized Files

Staying Organized

• Have a designated spot for incoming and outgoing mail and don’t let your mail pile up. To save time, sort your mail as soon as it comes to your office. Open all mail and deliver to the correct people immediately and get rid of any junk mail.
• Keep a clean and clutter free desk. Get rid of anything you don’t use or need, like to-do lists that have been completed or old pens that no longer work. Consider buying different storage containers that are small to organize the piles on your desk.
• De-clutter your storage space. If you have any old keyboards, computer monitors, printers, etc. that you have not used it the last two years, get rid of them! They are taking up valuable space. Remind yourself that if you haven’t used something in the last year to two years, you probably won’t need to use it again.
• Clean out your Rolodex. Trying to find the one business card you are looking for in a sea of unknown names is frustrating. Most likely if you haven’t called them within the year, you don’t need it. Go through and remove duplicate business cards that you have outdated information.

An organized office is an efficient office and an efficient office is one that streamlines productivity. Getting organized and staying organized may seem like a daunting task but these tips will help you to effectively change your office in as little as ten minutes.

Are you having trouble getting organized on your own? Are your receipts and files piling up on counters and file cabinets? Contact Admin Solutions at 952-892-5909 to learn more about how we can help you today!