Everyone knows the value of getting organized. Yet distractions and
other duties often keep us from actually doing anything about the
“If you’re working out of your home, the personal distractions
are endless,” said Bill Bliesath, a professional organizer. “And if
you’re managing a small agency, the number of hats you have to wear
in any given day can be overwhelming.”
“The biggest challenges to organizing are time and objectivity,”
he noted. “Commit to the task by scheduling organizing time in your
calendar and get a buddy to help you prioritize and purge.”
Adopt these tips and encourage your employees to do the same as
the first steps to getting organized:
-- End each workday by writing a “to do” list. Just the exercise
will focus your mind and provide a running start the next day.
-- Schedule time to tackle the “to dos.” The “I’ll do it later”
syndrome can bog you down.
-- Take 5- to 10-minute filing breaks. The practice will get you
moving and put a dent in the “to file” pile.
Too Much at Home
Does your home office reflect a professional attitude? Does it
overflow into your living space? Working at home creates special
organizational challenges. Space is often limited or supposed to do
double duty as a guest room or dining room.
“The key is maximizing the space you have,” Bliesath noted. He
suggested that an organization effort begins with your desk or
whatever table you use for work purposes.
“There are few things you really need to keep on your desk and a
lot of things you don’t,” Bliesath said. Like loads of framed
photos in the office/spare room. Limit desktop items to essentials
computer, phone, calculator, stapler, tape, paper clips and writing
“By paring it down to these essentials, you’re left with clear,
uncluttered space for working.” Bliesath said.
A bigger demon may be paperwork. “If your reality is a bunch of
piles,” Bliesath said, “focus on your filing cabinet.” Don’t have
one? Get one.
Match your paper filing system to the one on your computer to
make filing and finding easier. “Then clear a space for sorting,
and work that recycling bin!” he said.
On your desk, set up three stacking letter trays labeled: “in,”
“to file” and “to do.” The simple system will help you locate
needed papers, keep filing under control and manage your “to
Following these simple steps will create a more efficient and
less stressful home office.
Organizing one person is a challenge enough a small office can
seem impossible. Bliesath suggests focusing on a few key areas that
affect the entire agency.
“One of the most important elements of the well-organized office
is the filing system,” Bliesath noted. “It can be a useful resource
or a black hole.” Small businesses lose hundreds of hours of
productivity from employees searching for lost or misplaced
First, create a universal filing system that applies to general,
shared and individual files alike.
Then, declare a file day (or hour) to organize group and
individual files. Review the filing system and establish some
guidelines, then “purge, discard and then purge some more,” he
recommends. “Let go of all those outdated, useless papers.”
When in doubt about discarding something, ask a supervisor or
professional, such as an attorney or accountant, for guidance.
Similarly, items that belong in a file outside your immediate
work area should be put it in a “move to new location” pile.
Another black hole may be the agency supply cabinet. Have you
ever ordered supplies only to find lots of items stuffed behind
something else? “A well-organized supply cabinet will save you
time, money and a lot of frustration,” Bliesath said.
Despite these efforts, some people simply cannot get organized.
Bliesath calls these people “Sloppy Joes” and offers some tips:
-- Give Joe some uninterrupted time to get organized.
-- Create an organization plan for Joe to follow.
-- Assign a buddy (yourself, co-worker or professional
organizer) to help Joe.
-- Establish a reasonable deadline.
-- Celebrate Joe’s success to reinforce the value of an
organized office. Executing these basic steps can turn your
disorganized office into the cost-effective, efficient and
professional space it’s meant to be.