Do you find yourself looking for something that was “on your desk just a minute ago”? Do you find yourself repeating the same steps several times a day? Do you feel overwhelmed by your workload? It may just mean you need to get organized.
Whether you work at home or at a traditional office, these tips can help you get a handle on your papers, your work load, and consequently your stress level.
Only handle paper once
Decide what to do with that paper or piece of mail that comes across your desk. Does it need to be filed? Does it need to be sent on to someone else? If it’s a project you need to work on, determine if it needs to be done immediately, sometime today, or perhaps tomorrow or next week.
I like to use what I’ve heard called a tickler file. It’s an accordian folder that you can purchase at your local office supplies store, or you can make your own. There’s a “folder” for every day of the month and folders for each month of the year. If today is March 10 and the project needs to be worked on or reviewed tomorrow, put it in the folder marked “11.” If it doesn’t need to be dealt with for two months, put it in the May folder. Then every day when you come to work, check “today’s” folder.
Use an “in” box for new items
Train co-workers and bosses to put items in your in-box and be sure to look at it “today.” Follow the rules for paper handling in the previous section.
Keep frequently used items within reach
Stapler, paperclips, pens and pencils, scissors, etc should be handy. They can either be on your desk or in a drawer, depending on how frequently they are used and how much room is on your desk.
Keep frequently used file folders in a drawer nearby or in a standup file holder on your desk. This way you don’t need to spend valuable time searching or walking across the room to get it.
If you are going to make deliveries, decide what can be taken care of in the same trip. It could be you need to return something, pick up something, check something and they are all along the same path. So rather than making separate trips, you will save time by grouping them together.
Make a checklist
If you have routine tasks every day, make a permanent list and check them off as you complete them. That way you won’t forget to do something.
If you have tasks that vary from day to day, make a temporary list, and of course check them off as you complete them. You will get a visual of all the things you have accomplished.
At the beginning of each day, review what needs to be accomplished “today.” Pull items out of your tickler file, check your inbox, and check email.
At the end of the day, review your lists, start a new list with items you didn’t complete today, review what needs to be done tomorrow, review upcoming deadlines, and place these things in your tickler file for “tomorrow.”
Your desk should be clear of clutter, ready for the next day.