Staying Organized in the Office by Regina Lark

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Aug 26th, 2013
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Colorful folders organized neatly.Too many of us work in cluttered and disorganized spaces. Here are 10 tips to deal with the clutter and create a more hospitable and calm work environment, which you need as a principal! 

  1. Stop the work day 30 minutes before “clocking out” to put away supplies, file loose papers, and clear the desk.  This needs to be done for productivity as well as security reasons.
  2. Instead of lined notepads, use a spiral notebook for all meeting notes, phone messages, notes to self, “to do” lists, etc.  They end up being easier to consult later.
  3. Keep only essential desk items on the desk (e.g., tape, stapler, pens, spiral notebook) vs. piles of files, memorabilia, and the like.
  4. Do not start the work day by answering email. Instead prioritize the day with a “to do” list (which you created the day before) and start to work on taking care of most important tasks.
  5. Have your admin pre-sort your mail so that you are only getting the mail that you need to see.  He/she should also make it clear what your next action could be on whatever mail you’re receiving.  (Sign, review, discuss with superintendent at next meeting, etc.)
  6. At the end of each project, file all project related materials in a file cabinet or other appropriate (and secure) container.
  7. Block out time to return calls in batches. Be sure to leave the best time/number for person to return your call.
  8. Do not bring back to your office every handout from every meeting unless it is pertinent to your job.  Drop others in a recycle bin or in the shredder.
  9. Keep only enough office supplies in your office space that you will need for a month. You can always get more.
  10. De-clutter “sent” email folders and “delete” email folders at least once per week. Alphabetize (or otherwise group) the emails to see at a glance what can be quickly deleted or filed.

This list represents 10 new habits which will help you become more organized. It takes 21 days of consistent behavior to create a new habit. The key to staying organized at the office (or any place!) is to always be mindful about what works for you and what does not.

© Regina Lark, Ph.D., is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. For free tips and techniques to deal with your area of clutter, email a photo of the problem area, or visit her website for more information on how to clear your path: A Clear Path: Professional Organizing for Home, Work, Life

And if you liked these tips you may be interested in the Get a Plan! Guide® to Ridding Your Workspace of Clutter part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series designed to give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion.

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