Easy ways to organize your workspace

Maintaining an organized office can reduce your stress and increase your productivity. Review the following strategies if you struggle with keeping files, documents and computer peripherals in their places.

Keep your desk clear

An uncluttered desk removes distractions and helps keep your mind focused on tasks that need immediate attention. The only things that should be on your desk are those you use daily or weekly.

Keep hanging file folders to a minimum

Rather than putting one manila folder inside a hanging folder, group three to five related files inside it and label the hanging file with a main category.

Weed out what's not needed

Periodically go through your files and throw out papers you no longer need. When deciding which papers to toss, ask yourself if you'll ever refer to them again or if you could get them from someone else, if necessary.

Strive to handle papers only once

Every time you handle a piece of paper, do something to move it forward. Take action on it, file it, pass it on to someone else, toss it or add the action called for to your daily to-do list.

Go vertical

Keep papers stored vertically in files instead of horizontally in piles. This will keep you from wasting time shuffling through piles of paper to find what you need.

Keep your daily planner paper-free

If it's bulging with scraps of paper, notes and cards, record the information in the planner and file or toss the papers.

Stash those receipts

Keep an envelope in your briefcase or purse to hold receipts. When you return to your office, attach them to your weekly expense report or file them in your personal tax file.

Use your computer to store information

Doing so will keep you more organized than collecting stacks of paper. Save files on your hard drive, individually labeled floppy disks or another external storage device.

Give it a name

Label file drawers clearly to avoid searching each drawer to find what you want.

File things so you can find them

Keep your system simple and logical. Making it alphabetical whenever possible and labeling everything clearly and boldly will make it easier for your assistant or a co-worker to access your files in your absence.

Think before you print

Use your printer selectively by resisting the temptation to print drafts of documents. Before hitting the print key, ask yourself: Can I work with it on-screen? Do I really need to save a hard copy of it? What are the chances I'll need to refer to it again in this form? Can I archive it on a disk instead of in my filing cabinet?

Communicate without paper

Find out which of your clients, customers and business contacts have email and start communicating with them via the Internet. Fax from your computer with a fax/modem program.

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