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Originally Posted On: https://www.businesstomark.com/a-managers-guide-to-organizing-an-office/
As a manager, you probably have too much on your plate, and you tend to put organizing your office on the back burner. Not having time to organize your office seems like a valid reason for your disorganization, but that may not be the case. Once you consider how much time you lose because of disorganization, you’ll see that spending a few minutes every day to organize your office is worth the effort.
Organizing an office isn’t rocket science, but it seems so for top-tier managers with college degrees. Of course, moving and rearranging piles doesn’t count as organizing your office. If you want an organized office, you’ll have to kick things up a notch.
Organizing your office, regardless of the mess, doesn’t have to take days or weeks. With the right tips, you’ll be able to have a neat and organized office in no time. It won’t be easy, but you’ll pull it off if you’re truly committed.
Keep reading to learn a few tips on organizing an office for efficient, productive, and stress-free working.
Clearly Define Working Areas
As a manager, you probably have a large office, which isn’t always a good thing. The larger the office, the harder it is to keep organized. If you’re struggling with keeping your large office neat, we have a little trick for you.
If you want an organized office, you first have to start by defining the work areas or working “zones.” By working “zones,” we mean the spaces in your office that you do most of your work.
These areas most likely consist of your desk, the main workspace, the cabinets/shelves, and your reference areas. Cordon off these areas and arrange your office in such a way that your reference areas are close to your main working space. The easier you can access your reference zones while working, the more organized your office is likely to be.
For the greatest effect, consider using portable partitions so you have actual physical boundaries defining your work areas. The best part is you can move them around if you need to make any changes with your office partitions.
Do Some Serious Decluttering
If you still have documents from 2002 lying around, it’s time to get rid of them. Did you know that clutter and disorganization among employees can cost managers up to 10% of their salaries? That means that your disorganization also costs your company around 10% of its turnover.
The best way to declutter your office is to take one area at a time. Start with the workspaces, where you’re likely to find most of the clutter. If you don’t need it or it doesn’t work, toss it in the trash or shred it.
You can have a pile for devices or items that you may want to take for repairs. Also, be careful when tossing or shredding items not to discard anything important. However, don’t be too clingy; if you haven’t used the item in a few months, it’s time to get rid of it.
The same also applies to any decorations, plants, and other office knick-knacks. If they’re covered in dust, they belong in the trash.
Revamp Your Filing System
Although we’re well into the digital age, many managers still prefer filing their documents the old-fashioned way. If you belong in this category, maybe it’s time to revamp your office filing system. This doesn’t necessarily mean storing your files digitally; it means having a systematic way of organizing your files.
Create a Meeting Folder
First, start with a meeting folder containing all items that need to be discussed or handed off. This folder helps you prepare for upcoming events and save the stress of having to rummage through piles of paper for reports and other urgent documents.
Have a “Waiting on Response” (WOR) Folder
Most of the messy papers on your desk are probably pending items awaiting responses from other parties. This leaves you in limbo because you can’t discard them yet.
This WOR folder will contain all pending documents that are awaiting responses. It helps keeps your desk tidy and organized. Make sure you check the WOR folder once in a while to see whether there’s anything you need to act on.
A storage box works perfectly if you need extra space to store all your archived files. It’s an inexpensive way to store extra files and isn’t too obtrusive for a professional’s office.
The reading folder is where you place all the documents you have to read but don’t have time to. That way, you can get to them after you’re done with more important activities.
When you complete a project and still need documents concerning the project, put them in the archive folder. Since you’ll barely look at the folder, you can put them in the storage box discussed earlier.
As a rule of thumb, make sure you file every week. If you don’t, your files will pile up, and filing them becomes a headache. If you want to keep your office organized, ensure you file at least once every week.
Get the Drawers
Now that you’ve properly filed everything that needs to be, it’s time to get the drawers. The best approach for organizing your drawers is to put all the items you often use together. Put items that you don’t use as much in another drawer and items you barely use in the bottom drawer.
For the little items like pens, paperclips, and the likes, use drawer organizers to keep them tidy. If you don’t want to buy a drawer organizer, you can build one yourself. Also, remember to have a separate drawer for personal items to keep things professional.
Assign Discard Dates
There’s no need to keep every single piece of paper that enters your document. For every document, assign a discard date to get rid of it in the proper time. If you can dispose of the document, no need to assign a discard date.
Discard dates are very important for legal and financial documents. That way, you don’t get rid of anything that you needed to keep for a specific period. As mentioned earlier, you can keep such documents in the WOR folder as you wait for responses before you discard them.
Buy a Labeler
When getting a labeler, choose a labeler that’s professional, simple, and easy to use. You don’t want these labels with crazy graphics that make it seem like you’re in middle school. Getting a labeler is important, but make sure you get one with decent labels.
If you have some time, label the drawers, shelves, bins, and shelves. This will help you keep track of where everything goes and save time when looking for things. It also makes it easier to send someone to get you something from your office.
Once you label where everything should go, it’s time to gather all your items and redistribute them to where they should be. Make sure you put the things that you often use closer to you. It saves you the effort of having to get up to reach the item in question.
Organize Your Desk
By this point, all your files, drawers, and cabinets are organized; now, it’s time to get the desktop. Organizing your desktop is a piece of cake, especially if you have the right items. That said, get a tray for files, a pen holder for pens, and containers for other small items.
As mentioned earlier, you should keep the things that you often use closer to you. Plus, remember to assign a discard date for your documents to keep your trays from piling.
If you have plenty of incoming and outgoing documents, separate your trays so that you don’t mix the two up. All you need to do is get two trays, one for incoming documents and one for outgoing ones. Always refer to your WOR and reading folder to know what documents go where.
For those of you that still receive physical mail, don’t forget to sort them. Don’t just stick your hands in a pile of mail and pick the ones you need at the moment. That technique isn’t sustainable and only leads to time wastage.
Sort your mail into four categories: to read, to file, to delegate, and to handoff. Sort the mail as soon as you’re done reading or writing them to avoid lag and keep them from piling.
Organizing an Office Made Easy
Organizing an office isn’t something you learn from business school, but the above information should help you do just that. Now that you know how to organize a messy office, the best time to do so was yesterday. Organize your office today and watch your productivity skyrocket.
For more informative articles, check out the other articles on this blog.