Avoid these 10 office organizing mistakes

  • By Monika Kristofferson Office Efficiency
  • Wednesday, August 28, 2013 10:51am

We’re all allowed to make mistakes, but these 10 office organizing mistakes will cost you valuable time, energy and effort, which can lead to a blow to your bottom line.

You have no systems: When you don’t have systems for storing and accessing your paper, then it turns into piles and stacks. Piles and stacks force you to dig to find what you need and can have a negative impact if you are searching for documents that have deadlines, due dates or include financial consequences.

Or the wrong systems: The system that your colleague uses may look great, but copying their system may be a mistake. Everyone’s brain and natural inclinations are different. If you are truly a “stacker,” you will benefit from using labeled, stacking trays. If you try to use a file box with folders, you may resist using the system if you feel like out of sight is out of mind. Make sure you consider your work habits before choosing a system.

Patience pays: If you’ve been working from paper piles and then try out labeled file folders, you need to give yourself a chance to get used to a new system while creating new habits. It may be uncomfortable at first because you’re not used to it. Don’t throw in the towel after a week, give yourself time to embrace something new.

Maintain your systems: Setting up a great system is fantastic but it needs to be maintained. Set aside time every day or every week to tidy up, recycle, shred and file. A great system won’t maintain itself but it will serve you well if you stay on top of it.

Multiple calendars? No: Whether you are comfortable with paper and pencil or an electronic system, use one system and stick to it. Balancing three different calendars is a recipe for disaster and something will slip through the cracks. Avoid mistakes like missed appointments by maintaining a calendar with all of your obligations accounted for in one place. Your calendar is one of the most important organizing tools you can use.

Illogical placement: It’s common to set up an office without much thought about where to store supplies. Take a look around your office and ask yourself if the items that you use the most are close at hand when you’re working. Is the paper close to the printer? Do you have the proper supply of pens, staples, paper clips and your stapler close at hand? Remember to avoid excess. You don’t need three staplers close at hand, just one. Protect your prime real estate by only storing what you really need within arm’s reach.

Death by disorganization: We are all busy in our businesses and it can feel almost impossible to find time to get organized. But really, you must take the time to get organized. The statistics about time lost daily due to disorganization is staggering. So, you are actually losing time every day by not getting organized.

Break your office into sections and tackle one area at a time. You don’t have to organize the whole office at once. When I work with clients, I work in two-hour segments because we can get a lot done without taking too much time away from the work day.

Take before and after photos of your progress to stay motivated and document your progress.

Not thinking ahead: Make sure you are regularly consulting your calendar and looking ahead for upcoming events and deadlines. Think ahead to purchase supplies, make phone calls or send out emails so you don’t have a last minute scramble. You have to do these things anyway, so why not do them ahead of time instead of at the last minute?

What’s with the paper?: Make sure you continually evaluate paper you are storing and whether or not it’s time for it to leave your office. Are you keeping duplicates or information that someone else has, too? Can you recycle the catalogs and order online? Is the event over? Then recycle the flyer. Can you get more current information on the Internet and ditch the paper? Less is more.

Working too many hours: It’s vital to organize your projects, your time, your office and your activities to avoid working too many hours. As business professionals, it’s common to feel like we can get more done if we just make our days longer.

In the early 1900s, Ford Motor Co. ran dozens of tests to discover the optimum work hours for worker productivity. They discovered that the sweet spot is 40 hours a week. While adding another 20 hours provides a minor increase in productivity, that increase only lasts for three to four weeks before it turns negative (source: Geoffrey James, Inc.).

Work smarter and make it your goal to strike a healthy life balance. Avoiding these common organizing mistakes will help you do just that.

Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer, productivity consultant and trainer who owns Efficient Organization in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905 or www.EfficientOrganizationNW.com.