Now that the chaos of the holidays is over, you are likely finding yourself with a new found energy to get your home, office and life back in order. New beginnings and New Year’s resolutions go hand-in-hand with the month of January. It is by no mistake that The National Association of Professional Organizers formally recognizes this annual trend by deeming every January Get Organized (GO) Month.
If you are like most working moms, having more time likely tops your list of goals for 2011. Creating an efficient organization system will allow you to obtain your goal. A Brother International Corporation survey revealed that an estimated 76 working hours per person each year are lost as a result of disorganization in the workplace. That amounts to almost two full weeks of unproductive time spent searching for lost work supplies, work papers and/or computer files. Proper organization is key if you are looking to save time in the new year.
Not only will disorganization rob you of productivity, it may send your boss, co-workers or clients the wrong message. The same study found that 71% felt that a cluttered desk is a sign of “a cluttered mind.” The good news is that organizing your home office and gaining control over your time can be accomplished by following a few easy steps.
Tips for Home Office Organization
1) Have a designated place for everything. How many times have you found yourself looking high and low for a paper, directions or keys, and stressing out because you are running late for a meeting or appointment? The average American, in his or her daily life, wastes 55 minutes a day looking for items they know they have but simply can’t find. Placing your supplies in a designated location will enable you to locate them quickly and easily.
2) Purge. Purging involves getting rid of what you don’t need and don’t want. If you haven’t used an item in the past six months and don’t know when you will use it next, then donate it. If it doesn’t work, or is in disrepair, toss it or recycle it appropriately! Once you have finished purging, you can focus on what you have left.
3) Maximize your storage space by going vertical. Things you use regularly need to be close at hand. Things used less often can be stored up high or down low. Shelves, wall baskets, wall-mounted or magnetic file holders and hooks will be most helpful.
4) Select a label maker that is easy to use. Labeling is the key to creating a fool-proof system. It increases your effectiveness at work, as well as the independence of others who function within your workspace. Label the placement of items (shelves, files, containers, bins, baskets or drawers), and take the time to label the front and backs of boxes or bins stored on shelves, so that no thought needs to go into storing them again. Hand-held electronic labelers are easy to use and create a neat label for anything.
5) Create a “Take to meeting” bin or folder. Every time you come across or think of something you need to take to your next meeting(s), place it in the bin or folder. According to the Brother P-touch Means Business survey, approximately four in 10 (37%) of office workers have gone into a work meeting feeling unprepared.
6) Create a folder titled “Pending” for papers waiting for another person’s response or action. This folder will help clear off your desk and cork board. Revisit this folder often to make sure the action required or response needed occurred. Setup this folder in your email’s inbox for “pending” items there too!
7) Log missed calls. Use a telephone message log or journal to write down voicemail messages left for you and to write down notes during telephone conversations. You’ll have a record of all calls and conversations in one organized location.
8) One hour before “closing” time, get your desk in order. This way if you discover an oversight of a task or call, you will still have plenty of time to accomplish it.
Diane Albright is a Certified Professional Organizer and nationally recognized expert in the field of organization and productivity. She is a Golden Circle Member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and founder of All Bright Ideas, which offers professional organizing services and consultations.