Quick Tips for Getting Organized
By Barbara Hemphill
you think of “Getting Organized” as a big project, think again!
Organization is a skill – and like any other skill it
requires tools, principles, and practice.
In fact, being better organized, especially at work, can save
you time and increase your productivity and effectiveness.
Whether you are working at home or trying to impress the boss
at work, these ideas will help you get started.
mail is tomorrow’s pile. Ignore
the mistakes of the past and set up a system that will accommodate
every new piece of paper. Then
incorporate the old into the new – or get rid of it altogether!
you overwhelmed with too much stuff in your life?
Clutter is postponed decisions®.
To eliminate the clutter on your desk and in your life,
think The FAT SystemÔ:
File, Act, Toss.
help you decide the best way for you to get organized, ask
yourself “What will I do?” – not “what
I do?” Organization
is not a moral issue, and does not have a “right” or
technology to help you get and stay organized.
For example, a contact manager software, such as Outlook,
for managing contact information and filing software.
Or try Taming the Paper Tiger for managing physical files
and resources and Enfish for managing electronic files.
the unnecessary paper in your life by using your calendar more
frequently. Instead of
keeping the paper, put the information (location of meeting, for
example) on your calendar. If
you need to keep the paper, create a ticker file system 1-31 for
the 31 days of the month and Jan – Dec.
File the paper in the day you want to do it.
is more! Have nothing
which you do not know to be useful, think to be beautiful – or
Principle: If you
don’t know you have it, or you can’t find it, it is of no
like items together (e.g., office supplies, travel items, seasonal
decorations, memorabilia). Find
a space or container large enough to hold the largest amount you
want to keep. When it is full, toss or give away!
appointments with yourself -- whether it is to clean off your
desk, spent more time with your family, or write a book.
(Write a page a day and at the end of the year, you will
have a 365-page book!)
9) Store items
according to where and how often you use them – and label them
clearly so others can understand the system you are using.
To avoid accumulating clutter, eliminate any container
which does not have a specific purpose.
10) In every organizing process, things will feel worse before they get
better. This is
normal, and not the best time to stop for a cup of coffee!
is a skill to help you accomplish something that is important to
you. Ask yourself,
“If I were organized, what would I be able to do that I can not
do now?” For example, thinking about being comfortable with
unexpected guests will keep you motivated to get rid of clutter.
for help when you need it is a sign of wisdom, not weakness. You can help others
with things you know and do well. Together we are better.™
you have difficulty letting go of things – even if you don’t
use them? Finding
someone else who needs them more than you do will make it easier.
Deductible software will help you track donations and
maximize the deduction you can legally take.
with “to read” piles?
Develop a “Just-in-time Reading”
system. Tear out articles and file them according to subject.
Keep a list of your files (which can be automatically
generated by filing software such as Taming the Paper Tiger), so
when you need the information you will be able to find it quickly.
purpose of a filing system is not to put papers away – it is to
be able to find them again! Think
“finding system” and ask yourself, “How can I find this
Principle: If you
don’t know you have it, or can’t find it, it’s of no value
right information at the right time reduces stress and improves
productivity – and makes you appear smart!
Use your calendar to manage your time, and your filing
system to manage your information.
all the electronic files you create into one folder (which can be
subdivided into additional folders.)
This makes finding the information you need, and backing up
or transferring data much simpler.
of any job is using the right tool – one that is right for you!
Thinking a Palm Pilot will get you organized is like
thinking a piano can make you a musician.
Do not be unduly influenced by the latest and greatest
papers together in their largest category – and break them down
when the file becomes too bulky to manage. On the other hand,
putting one piece of paper in a file folder is perfectly
acceptable – if it helps you find it when you need it!
File Index is to a filing system what a Chart of Accounts is to a
budget. You need a
Chart of Accounts to manage your money,
and a File Index to manage your information.
Filing software, such as Taming the Paper Tiger, will
generate a file index automatically and allow you to easily share
physical files with people who need to know.
a Rolodex as a “mini-filing system” – a place to put bits of
information too small for a traditional file folder – i.e.,
holiday schedule for next year, social security numbers for your
family, combination for gym lock.
(If you are a Palm
Pilot user, this may not be necessary.)
an inventory of your personal belongings could make a big
difference in your lifestyle in case you or your family are struck
with a natural disaster or a family emergency.
Boards can be great organizing tools. Separate information into
two categories: Information or Inspirational.
Mixing the two purposes on one board gives a cluttered
appearance which detracts from the function and the aesthetics.
decide if something is organized, ask three questions:
“Does it work?” “Do
I like it?” “Does
it work for others I care about?”
everyday by asking yourself, “What’s the most important thing
for me to accomplish tomorrow?”
Then do it first – before you check your e-mail!
some of these ideas and you will be well on your way to a productive
environment – a setting in which everything around you supports who
you are and who you want to be –
so you can accomplish your work and
enjoy your life.
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