Increase Productivity and Decrease Costs
By Laura Leist
pile instead of file? Is
your desk overflowing with mounds of paperwork?
If it is, you’re not alone.
Many claim that if they file it, it is out of sight and out of
mind – perhaps never to be found again.
Today, U.S. workers generate 2.7 billion pieces of new paper a day – that is 45
sheets per person a day! What
is happening to it and how do you find it when you need it?
Business Magazine reported U.S workers waste on average at least two
hours per week because they are not able to retrieve, share, and
determine how to store and organize documents and other information.
The costs to businesses can be astounding.
A company that employs 50 is most likely spending over $125,000
a year on wasted productivity.
It is no
longer enough to create and maintain efficient filing systems for
paper and electronic information. One must also consider how that
information can be quickly accessed and retrieved when needed.
After all, what good is the information if you cannot locate
One of the
main reasons people accumulate so much paper is they don’t know what
to keep and what to get rid of. 82%
of the information we keep, whether it be paper based or electronic
will never be referenced again. There
are two questions you should be asking yourself about each piece of
information you have – whether electronic or paper based:
If you can
answer yes to these
questions, you then need either act
on the information or store it
for later use. If you
answered no to these questions, it’s time to eliminate it.
six proven strategies to help get an office organized, increase
productivity and help with information retrieval.
key is your friend: When processing your email, quickly decide if
you need to respond, file or delete.
If the information is not useful, delete it before you move on
to the next email. Leaving
information in your inbox that is not needed and is not deleted
immediately creates unnecessary clutter.
Your inbox should only contain email that is waiting for a
response or is waiting to be filed.
cabinets” in your Inbox: Creating sub-files for your inbox is
like creating “filing cabinets” for your electronic information.
An organized system for filing email is essential if you want
to find and use the information again.
It is important that the names you give your files are
descriptive and have some consistency – making it easy to quickly
locate information when needed. You
could create files based on projects, people, associations, volunteer
work, clients, prospects or a combination of several.
Documents” should not be used as a “one-size-store-all”
location: Storing all of your documents in the “My Documents”
file can make it very difficult to find a document when you need it.
Instead, create multiple files and sub-files to store
documents. When setting up
these files, you will want to go from the very general, to the
specific. See the
following example and naming conventions as an example of how you may
wish to set up your files:
Chaos (Folder that contains all work files)
Administration (Sub-file of Eliminate Chaos)
Advertising (Sub-file of Eliminate Chaos)
Brochures (Sub-file of Advertising)
Internet (Sub-file of Advertising)
PPC (Sub-file of Internet)
4. Use consistent “naming
conventions” for computer files: In addition to a well organized
filing structure for your computer files, you also need to use
consistent naming conventions for the files stored in each folder so
that as you have more and more documents, you can quickly locate the
one you need.
the very general to the specific.
Administrative Assistant May 2005.doc
Bookkeeper January 2001.doc
Client Services Manager December 2000.doc
Consultant March 2001.doc
Consultant – Senior March 2001.doc
Executive Assistant June 2003.doc
example, the name of the position begins the file name and then to be
certain when the job description was last written or updated, a date
has been included. Notice
how there is two “Consultant” job descriptions.
By naming them both with the word “Consultant” they stay
together in the file folder, rather than one being farther down the
list, if it were named Senior Consultant March 2001.doc.
The recycling bin and
shredder are also your friends: Are you hanging on to documents,
articles, magazines or other information because you are going to read
it “someday?” Be
realistic – if the information has been sitting in piles on your
desk or the surrounding floor for six years, or even a year, there is
a high probability that you will never get around to reading this
information. Even with the
best intentions, the bottom line is that if you do not make the time
it will continue to pile up and you may never get to it.
If you do
make the time for those items in the reading pile, save only the
information that you will use or refer to in the future.
This information can be stored in a variety of ways.
Here are some examples of what you may find and how to store
A website you want to check out.
Add it to your “to do” list.
If you like the information on the website – add it to
your “Favorites” in your Internet Browser.
A tip – could be stored in a file called tips or
more specifically, the type of tip.
This way, you are not saving the entire magazine or article
for the one tip.
A product you wish to buy – if it is not an
“immediate” purchase you will make, create a file folder or
envelope for potential purchases.
Action Items: Let’s
face it; we all have a long to-do list.
Things like calls to make, errands to run, things to purchase,
projects to complete and other little nagging items that must get done
are all candidates for this list.
Have only one location where you keep the majority of these
If you are
a paper person, get yourself a small journal book to keep this
information in – all in one compact place.
Items such as sticky notes that you’ve written a number on so
you can call someone, can be easily put in the book, or a business
card can be paper clipped or stapled in your ‘call” section.
implementing these strategies, your office will be well on it’s way
to being a fine-tuned operation. Papers
will be filed away, desks will be clear and employees will be
organized and productive.
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