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10 Tips To An Organized Office

by Julie Morgenstern

1. Rearrange furniture to boost efficiency. Bring filing cabinets, frequently used reference materials, and daily office supplies within arm's reach of your desk chair. If you have to get up to put something away, chances are you won't.

2. Before buying additional filing cabinets, free up space by boxing inactive files and putting them into storage. For easy retrieval, number each box and keep an index of it's contents in a file called "Storage".

3. Instead of a straight "A-Z" system, group your files into 3-5 broad categories. Assign a different color to each, and separate them in the filing drawers. For example, you might keep "green" financial files in the top drawer, "yellow" personnel files in the bottom drawer. Color coding reduces misfiling and stimulates your thinking. When you see a "green" folder, your mind immediately focuses on financial matters.

4. Use "straight tab" filing, in which the tab position for all the folders lines up one behind the other (instead of the traditional left, center, right, left, center, right? alternating tab technique). Straight tab filing is much easier on the eye, and you can add or delete files anytime without ruining your pattern.

5. Make your filing system attractive. Color coding, high quality 2-pli top folders, and professional labels make your system visually pleasing, and increase your chances of using it consistently.

6. Label individual files using the broadest titles possible. Too many folders with only one or two pieces of paper in them is excessive and confusing.

7. Once your system is designed, create a 1 page file index (a list of all the individual files under each category). When you're unsure of where to find or file a piece of information, a quick glance at your index is more precise than rifling through your file drawers.

8. On your desktop, keep an "In-Box" for mail, and at least one "Out- box". If you routinely route information to several people, keep an out-box for each person. This works as well at home as in the workplace.

9. Resist the urge to keep active, pending, or to-do files on your desktop, so that you won't forget them. Instead, file everything no matter what it's state of completion, and keep a master to-do list on your desk. You are more likely to forget an urgent task buried under a pile of papers than one that's written on a list.

10. Remember, 80% of what we file we never look at again. Think hard before you save a piece of paper. You can always re-order interesting brochures or certain reports if you keep a master list of sources. Don't save things you "might" need someday if they are easily replaced.

Copyright 1998-2013 by Julie Morgenstern



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