Upcoming Seminars: Seattle Home Show and Money Wise Women Forum
Upcoming Classes: Eliminate Paper Chaos
Product Review: Captio Applicase
Media News: Real Simple Spotlight and Seattle Post Intelligencer Article
Feature Article: Increase Productivity & Decrease Costs by Implementing an Information Retrieval System
October 15-21 is National Home-Based Business Week - to help inspire you in your office this month - here are 6 proven strategies for proven office organization!
It was once thought that someday we would be a paperless society, thanks to computers that were going to help us eliminate paper. Today, U.S. workers generate 2.7 billion pieces of new paper a day – that is 45 sheets per person a day! I am fairly certain that all of this information is not being recycled; but just what is happening to it and how do you find it when you need it?
Do you pile instead of file? If you do, 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. It is no longer enough to create and maintain efficient filing systems for paper and electronic information, but one must also consider how that information can be quickly accessed and retrieved when needed. After all, what good is the information if you can not locate it?
Smart Business Magazine reported that 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 (assuming the average pay rate is $25/hour per employee).
In order to help eliminate some of these costs, I offer these six proven strategies for office organization, increased productivity and information retrieval.
There are two questions you should be asking yourself about each piece of information you have – whether electronic or paper based:
1. Do I need this?
2. Will I refer to it someday?
If you can answer YES to these questions, you then need either ACT on the information or STORE the information for later use, in other words, you want to be able to RETRIEVE the information when you need it.
If you answered NO to these questions, it’s time to ELIMINATE it.
Keep in mind that approximately 82% of the information we keep, whether it be paper based or electronic will never be referenced again. Of course there are always documents that may never be referenced again, but do need to be kept, due to legal or tax reasons.
1. The "delete" 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 in your inbox. Your inbox should only contain email that is waiting for a response or is waiting to be filed.
2. Create "filing cabinets" in your Inbox.
Creating sub-files from 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 be descriptive and have some consistency – making it easy to quickly locate information when needed. There is no right or wrong way to name and organize this information. You could create files based on projects, people, associations, volunteer work, clients, prospects or a combination of several.
Let’s take "clients" as an example to see how that could be set up. You could create a file called Clients (essentially that is one of your filing cabinets). When you open the "filing cabinet" you might have hanging files and in those hanging files you may have sub files. Your inbox is no different. So, when you open the "client" filing cabinet, you may have a file for each client you need to keep correspondence with. In each of the client files, you may find that you need sub-files based on client projects. These files would be like the manila files you put in hanging files.
3. "My 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 in your naming conventions.
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.
A couple of naming examples are:
In the previous example, notice I have gone from the very general to the specific, without using spaces. The reason for putting a date on the file instead of just the month is so that if it is miss-filed you can quickly tell what year the newsletter is from.
In the following 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.
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
Notice how there are 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
Notice in the previous example I chose to use spaces in the file names, but again, they are all consistent.
Whatever type of consistent pattern you use for naming your files, it will be very easy to quickly glance at how they are named and continue the pattern.
5. 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 – someday. Even with the best intentions to someday read this information, 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 to read those items in the reading pile, save only the information that 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 them:
a. 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.
b. A tip – could be stored in a file called tips or more specifically, they type of tip. This way, you are not saving the entire magazine or article for the one tip.
c. 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.
6. "Action Items"
Let’s face it, we all have a long to-do list. I chose to call these items "action items" instead of to-do’s. It makes the list sound a bit more palatable. Having 1 location where you keep the majority of these items is best.
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.
If you are a paper person, get yourself a small journal book to keep this information in – all in one compact place. You can sub-divide it if you need to, or purchase one that has multiple sections. 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.
Wishing you all of the benefits an organized office can provide!
During the month of September, we sponsored a contest for clients. For each organizing session completed during the month, the client name was added to the drawing. The lucky winner is "Susan" who will be enjoying a nice evening out - and celebrating the results of her families hard work on all of their organizing projects. Congratulations Susan!
October Organizing Offer - Win a FREE 1/2 day Session
Continuing with the success of our Daniel's promotion, we're offering a new contest for the month of October.
For each session completed by 10/31/06, your name will be entered into the drawing for a FREE 1/2 day session with one of our Organizing Specialists - Kari, Margaret, Christine or Tina!
Call today to schedule your sessions - 425.670.2551. If you're already scheduled to work with us this month, you're already entered!
Stay tuned for our November offer...
Christine Radio - Organizing Specialist and Designer
Christine joined the Eliminate Chaos team earlier this year with eight successful years in the commercial interior design and space planning field. After receiving her BA in Interior Design from Purdue University, she spent several years designing kitchens and bathrooms, which also included selecting flooring, paint, fabrics, lighting fixtures and furnishings.
As an Organizing Specialist, Christine brings elements of design to your project, whether it is your office, kitchen, closet, home office, child's room or a garage! Not only will she be able to help you get organized, but she can also help you make it look beautiful.
A recent client of Christine writes:"I recently worked with Eliminate Chaos - who I've worked with in the past on another project.Christine worked with me this last time and through her vision, saved me valuable space on my limited shelves in the kitchen, organized my work space/garage and offered countless suggestions to make my life more organized. I cannot recommend her/EC highly enough."
Product Sale: Save 20% on Organizing & Customizing with Microsoft Outlook
In honor of National Home-Based Business Week October 15-21, we are offering 20% off our Organizing & Customizing with Microsoft Outlook 2003 step-by-step workbook!
With the holidays just around the corner, wouldn't it be great to be able to have all of your information organized so you can quickly create your mailing? This book can help with the following and so much more:
Create Custom Categories for your Contacts Show you how to use your Contact Categories to perform Mail Merge Give you the secrets to performing a mail merge to labels, envelopes and documents Take you through the step-by-step examples of how to perform the mail merge
Examples of how to use your calendar so you don't miss important dates during this busy time
Ace your college applications with the Captio AppliCase® organizer
The secret to getting in is getting organized. And the secret to getting organized is the AppliCase. It's your complete guide to the application process - from initial explorations to final decision. Packed with folders, forms, checklists, and resources, the AppliCase organizer has everything you need to stay on track and never miss a deadline.
Inside you will find:
All-in-One SystemEight Topic SectionsInformation PagesWorksheets and Checklists with Free Online Refills from CaptioPre-Printed LabelsBuilt-In Inbox
Media News: Real Simple Spotlight and Seattle PI Article
Real Simple: In this months issue of Real Simple, I am excited to announce that some of my kitchen tips are featured! See page 258 for some of my quotes!
Seattle PI Article Featured: In the October 7th edition of the Seattle@Home Insert in the Seattle PI, you will find an article with lots of ideas on how to "Eliminate Holiday Chaos" - along with many product recommendations to help organize your time and decor! If you don't receive the paper, the article and some of the product recommendations will be posted online at: https://seattlepi.nwsource.com/athome
"Erin really took the time to listen and understand my needs. She helped me refine my vision for the space and provided great suggestions and insight. Erin made the process an enjoyable one. Thanks Erin!" -Gene Juarez
A great way to try us out and get some organizing done at the same time! For a limited time, we are offering an amazing NEW client organizing special. If you are not an existing client this is a great way for us show you how we can eliminate your chaos.