If you want to get the most productivity out of your day then keeping yourself organized is incredibly important. This can help you increase the amount of work you get done in a day, the amount of spare time you have to fit around work and the amount of profit you make from your business. Despite this, many people still have their work space in chaos and leave the organization of papers and files until its too late. Sure it will take up a little bit of time now, but the amount of time you’ll get back from being able to quickly find and file documents and fill out tax returns will mean it pays for itself. Think of organization as an investment then that will pay you back in both time and money. If you want to save yourself both then you need to start by arranging the space around you. Below are some organizing tips that will help you to do just that.
First of all you need to design your office or workspace in a way that’s conducive to organization and productivity. The reason a lot of people don’t keep their work organized as they go is that it’s out of their way – if it’s quick and easy to file your papers away then you’ll find you’re a lot more likely to do so, and that’s the first organizing tip – keep everything easily accessible. To do this you will want to use paper trays or draws so that you can easily slip your files in after you’re done with them. Organize them so that the more you use them the closer they are, so that it’s also easy to grab hold of at the same time.
Obviously eventually your paper trays are going to start overflowing however as you start putting more and more in there and at this point you’re work and papers might start to spill out onto your desk once again and ruin your organization. For this reason your files will need regular sorting to make sure you don’t have useless papers taking up space unnecessarily and to do that you’ll need to have more than one tray.
Number two of our organizing tips then is to keep three separate paper trays and to organize these by time rather than subject along with a working area for any current work. Finally have a filing cabinet for really old work and papers that you won’t be needing again regularly. This then gives you a table space for current work, a tray for sorting at the end of each day, a tray for sorting at the end of each week and a tray for sorting at the end of each month – the survivors of which make it into your filling cabinet.
This system works so well for a variety of reasons. First of all it means that it’s very easy to slip your papers into the ‘day tray’ as you finish with them which means that you won’t have piles building up (when you use a document from your week or month tray it should be filed back into the day tray). At the end of each day you then sort through that tray and throw away anything you won’t need and move anything else into the ‘week tray’ so that your ‘day tray’ doesn’t overflow.
You now no where to look for items that are relevant to that week. Finally at the end of each month, clear all the contents of your month tray into the bin or filing cabinet. This will take the longest but with a concrete day that it has to be done you can then plan around it. As you are required to save all legal documents, and as you may have to reproduce certain e-mail conversations, a filing cabinet is crucial for keeping documents easily accessible that you would take up too much space otherwise. Anything that you want to carry over into the next month you can then return to the ‘day tray’ where it will be easily accessible.
These organizing tips actually work particularly well for those in the publishing industry working for magazines etc where they are required to move onto a new issue at the end of each month. If you tend to need the same papers for longer than a day to work with then you may wish to rename them ‘current’, ‘recent’ and ‘old’ for example – though you should still check them at the end of each day, week and month to prevent your system getting ‘clogged’. Essentially it’s as though you’ve gone into a computer folder and clicked ‘arrange by date modified).
Following these organizing tips will help you to keep your desk clear which is good for productivity and your own peace of mind, and will help you to retrieve items quickly and not mislay important documents. However there are other items and systems which can be useful to make sure you stay organized.
One of these items is a notice board. This is useful for many reasons as it allow you to pin up items of importance and prevent you from forgetting things you need to be working on. In some instances you will be half way through a project at the end of the day and pinning it up can help you to remember where you last left off. Similarly you can also leave yourself notes – as can other people as written reminders to answer e-mails, make phone calls or pay bills. Make a habit of writing down to-do lists and pinning them on your board and likewise to check your board on regular intervals to make sure you’re not overlooking some important task.
Similarly getting a calendar is another popular organizing tips as it allows you to visualize the week ahead and make sure you have enough time in your schedule to do everything you need to get done. Even better than a calendar however can be a digital assistant or PDA, or a smart phone with the same functions. The reason these work so well is that you can set schedules and reminders to alert you to upcoming appointments. Depending on the nature of your work you might want to log other important data too – for example your finances and keeping a cash book can be very useful if you’re self employed or have to fill in a tax return at the end of the year. Similarly you may benefit from keeping a database of client information if you work in sales or marketing. Again these can be imported onto a PDA or phone and synchronized on your PC meaning that you’ll always have a backup and can access the information anywhere anytime you need to.
Using all the data you’ve collected and all the plans you’ve organized using the listed organizing tips, you can then create plans for the weeks and months ahead which can further work to streamline your operations. Monitor your profits and notice how changes to the way you do business have affected them and write to-do lists and business plans using the information from your notice board, calendar and financial data.