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Organizing Your Office for Maximum Efficiency

Do you have stacks files piled up all over your office? Are you constantly rearranging project deadlines? Have you been passed over for promotions or projects when you knew you could do the job? Are you costing your company time and money because of misplaced files or documents?

If your answer is "yes" then it's time to get organized.

The Cost of Being Disorganized

Being disorganized eats up time, which equals money. For example, if your secretary wastes precious time going through her work to get to her work, he or she can lose (conservatively) 30 minutes each day. If his/her salary annual salary is $30,000, the time wasted will cost your company about $1,500 in lost productivity. That translates into about 25 cents per minute.

Or relate that to your salary: If you gross $90,000 each year, your time is worth 75 cents per minute. If you lose 30 minutes every day looking for your work, you'll cost your company $4,500 per year in lost productivity.

Disorganization also can undermine your company's credibility. In business, first impressions are important. A work environment that is poorly organized and cluttered, will project a negative image to your existing and potential customers.

Tips Easy Ways to Get Organized

Realize that you didn't become disorganized overnight, and you won't undo it in a day. But here are some strategies to help you get started:

Get a good desk. This doesn't necessarily mean an expensive desk, but one that is right for your personal work habits, business activities and other daily needs. If you regularly refer to books, manuals or publications, a desk with an upright hutch would make sense. Or if you use a computer and have ample floor space, consider an L-shaped desk. You can keep your computer on one section and still have a large workspace on the other. This configuration allows you to avoid juggling two priorities on the same desktop.

Mange your time better. One of the simplest ways to make better use of your time is to rethink how long tasks will actually take, and schedule accordingly. Envision yourself completing a task from start to finish and what actions you must take. Until you get more accurate at estimating, add 25% to the time you think you'll need to complete a certain task. Another way to realize actual time is to time yourself while you do different things, such as paying bills, balancing the checkbook or going to the post office. You might be surprised to find out how long things actually take. Make notes on how long each task takes so you can remember to allow ample time.

Throw away old papers. From mail to fax to advertisements and memos, paper is the largest contributor to clutter in an office environment. Many people accumulate paper clutter due to a fear of throwing away something important. However, 80 percent of the paper you save "just in case" is never needed again. And if it is, chances are you can recreate or get it from another source. Remember, your trashcan and your shredder are your friends.

Make faster decisions. Clutter happens when you put off making decisions. Try to get into the habit of quickly deciding whether you should keep paper, mail and other items. The faster you can make confident decisions, the faster you'll keep things moving through your life, which prevents backlog.

Here are some other simple tips for organizing your work environment:

* Have a master to-do list for each day at your desk.
* Pre-Sort your mail: 'To-File,' 'To-Read,' 'To-Contact' (write or call).
* Use a variety of containers to organize office supplies, paper clips and pens.
* Use a variety of desktop organizers or trays to organize papers that come across your desk.
* Color-coding your files makes it faster to find information.
* Sub-divide larger files with interior file folders.
* Return calls in batches, leaving specific messages and the time you called if the person you're trying to reach isn't available.
* Empty workspace of everything but the project you're working on to cut down on distractions.
* At the end of each project or event, organize paperwork and file or store it.
* Straighten desk at the end of the day and especially at the end of the week so that you can start each morning with a clear desk.

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