What does office disorganization cost your company?
A recent survey by Office Depot found that 82% of workers feel a keen focus on organization helps them succeed in business, however 32% admit to a disorganized workspace and 45% confessed to cleaning up the clutter only once a month or less. Disorganization can have ramifications on how a business is run. The survey found that disorganization commonly leads to lost time (47%), meeting tardiness (16%) and missed deadlines (14%). This proportion increases among workers of small business (36%).
As a small business owner, you have likely dealt with the challenges of disorganization. In my discussions with entrepreneurs and small business owners, I have come across a litany of organizing misconceptions. Here are some solutions to your most common organizing woes:
There is no right or wrong way to be organized.
We’ve all heard of “right brained” vs. “left brained” individuals. Those that are “right brained” tend to be more creative and thus disorganized. The fact of the matter is that those that are “right brained” tend to be more “visual” and therefore they like to see what they are working on – and thus much of what they work on is out in the open. It’s really about creating systems and processes that the individual can maintain to be efficient and productive. The work can be out in the open, as long as it is done so in an organized fashion so that when the information is needed – it can be retrieved.
Organization doesn’t need to be in your genes.
I am here to testify that organization does not need to be something you are born with – after all, I was adopted and I can guarantee you that many of the organization skills I learned at a young age, I learned from both of my parents. Instead of playing the blame game, be proactive and seek help.
Being neat and tidy is NOT the same as being organized.
It’s easy to take a clean sweep off your desk top into a box, bag or desk drawer. This puts a Band-Aid on the problem, but doesn’t find a solution. In most instances, people desire solutions. The clean sweep may be a temporary solution, but at some point you must face the underlying disorganization.
Categorize files for easy access.
The key to a great filing system is the ability to “retrieve” the information when you need it. The act of “filing” the paper away is simple – the critical step lies in how you categorize it so that you and others can access it.
Develop an organization system before you hire an Office Manager or Office Assistant.
Many managers and business owners I’ve worked with in the past, contact me after they’ve hired an Office Manager or Office Assistant because they are frustrated that this individual has done very little to help them get organized. In order for this individual to be successful, there must be systems and processes that they can follow on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Typically, this person is not the individual that will “create” the systems or processes but rather “maintain” them. In many cases, the individual hired to work in this role may not have the background to develop those processes or systems for you – yet they are excellent at using the systems. It is critical that the Manager or Business Owner play a key role in the development of these systems because most likely they will be the ones using them long after the individual hired to help them has moved on.
Clutter in your office, whether on your work surface or on the floor, can be extremely distracting. If you’re used to working in this kind of environment, you may not even be aware that the clutter is distracting you. It also causes unnecessary stress, because the items lying around often represent unfinished business. Having a system and a place to put things in your office will help minimize the distractions and eliminate extra stress. Here are a few tips to help you declutter your office:
1. Magazine Holders – use them to store directories, software manuals, packages of computer software labels, folders, user guides, packages of computer photo paper. When placing on a shelf, you want to see the back of the holder instead of the contents – it gives a clean look.
2. Computer Software – If you do not have an IT department that stores software and the user manuals for you, you’ll want to set up a system in your office so you can put your hands on when you need it. Empty the contents of the boxes and keep the software and manual. Be sure you also keep the Product Key if not on the CD case or CD itself. User manuals can also be stored in a magazine holder, in a hanging file in your filing cabinet or even in a decorative box that sits on a shelf. Software can be stored in a binder or a box designed for software.
3. To be Filed – Establish a location in your office for papers that require no additional action but just need to be filed. Don’t allow this location to accumulate items that need action. Grab some Smead Viewables, which are great for filing and labeling. The 3D tab lets you see your information from the front, top, and back. Use these in your filing cabinet, filing box or action center.
4. Receipts – Create a place for receipts you must keep. Make a decision immediately if you need to keep it. Most likely, if it is a business expense, you’ll need to keep it. If you file an expense report – keep an envelope for the period where you can place the receipts until you file the report – so you don’t miss out on being reimbursed for expenses. If you have your own business, be sure to label the type of expense immediately – it will save you hours of time later at tax time!
5. Names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers – Establish a location in your office where you’ll keep these pieces of information until you have time to record them in your contact management program or address book. Use a folder that you keep close by or a small container into which you toss the information. Better yet, record it immediately and discard that piece of paper.
So stop wasting time searching for documents and other items in your office, it could make all the difference in how successful your business is run. Still not sure where to begin? Just pick one small area to start – and complete that area. You’ll have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and then you can move on to other areas of your office.
Outlook Productivity Moment for Outlook 2007
The "Show As" field when you create an appointment offers you four options: Free, Busy, Tentative and Out of Office. Each option has a corresponding color that denotes the option you've selected. So why use this field? Because at a glance you and others that have access to your calendar, or are scheduling meetings are able to quickly see if you are "in the office, but busy," "out of the office," or if you have something "tentatively" planned. The "tentative" option can be extremely useful. The moment you ask someone if a certain date and time will work for a lunch date, meeting, dinner date, etc...schedule it on your calendar as "tentative." This way you won't accidentally double-book yourself and give that time to someone else. Once the other party confirms, you just change the "Show As" field to "Busy" or "Out of Office."
For more Outlook Productivity tips, you may want to consider purchasing one of the five Outlook Books I've written.
Outlook Webinar Recordings - Now Available on our Website
In our January newsletter I mentioned two Outlook webinars that I gave. We recorded these webinars and due to the demand for this information, you can now purchase the webinars on our website. You can purchase the DVD of just the webinar, or for a few dollars more, you can purchase the step-by-step user manual that accompanies the DVD.
Each presentation will run about an hour and will include refreshments and drawings for some fabulous prizes. The presentation will take conference room with useful tips to help you with your project. We will then will continue in the showroom with a designer from California Closets who will show you how to incorporate product into your solution.
While each seminar is free of charge, we ask that you please be sure to RSVP for each event you want to attend to ensure a seat.
Los Angeles Organizing Awards
In my January newsletter, I mentioned the "Organizing Awards" ceremony in Los Angeles and said I would provide you with an update on the winner of the Best Product Retailer. And the winner was...The Container Store!
It was a fun filled evening and as the President of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) I even got to accept an award on NAPO's behalf. NAPO won the award for "Most Valuable Education Resource!"
If you would like to hear my interview about our industry on the red carpet, click here.
If you'd like to hear my acceptance speech on behalf of NAPO, click here.