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Conquer Your Paper Piles with These 6 Critical Questions and Stay Organized

Like you, I thought computers were supposed to reduce the amount of paper that we produce, keep and file. Not so! I think we produce more paper today than we ever have. When I work with clients to organize their home office paper is the number one issue.

Let’s review the paper that is produced in the average office and find out what you should be asking yourself about it.

Do I need to print it?

A very obvious question but a lot of people print everything!Too much to print Some people just have to have a paper copy of everything and some would rather read from paper than a computer screen. Ask yourself this question every time you go to print something and save time as well as paper.

Do I need to keep it?

I mean do you really need to keep it? If you have a copy on your computer and you are backed up to an external drive or the cloud you don’t really need to keep a document unless it is for expense, legal or government requirements.

However, here are seven key additional questions to ask yourself when you are deciding to keep or toss paper:

• Do I want to keep this and why?
• Do I need to keep this and why?
• Under what circumstances would I want this?
• Is this current enough to be useful?
• Would it be difficult to obtain again?
• Does it exist in another place or format?
• If I wanted to find this information what word would enter my mind?

Don’t forget to ensure your electronic folders and sub folders are in shape so you can access the document or print it later if required.

How long do I need to keep it?

Unless it is needed for legal reasons or for government requirements you should toss paper if you have not looked at it in over one year. Check your own requirements with your lawyer, accountant or tax agency and any paper that is required to be saved should be done so and archived with a date for disposition.

Where do I file it?

Let’s face it, filing is a pretty mundane (but needed) chore. There are many different ways of filing that can make this chore go a little easier. cartoon-man-stuffing-filing-cabinetRather than a straight A to Z filing system try breaking it down to category titles like “contracts”, “utilities”, “customers” and the like. Now set up a sub file within each for the pertinent customer name or contract number, etc. This will allow you to zero in to a smaller area faster rather than an entire drawer.

 

Is it confidential?

In today’s world of fraud everyone should have a shredder available or have a locked box where sensitive documents get placed. You can have a shredding company come in periodically to shred your documents on the premises or many office supply stores will now shred documents for you for a small fee.

File, Act or Toss (FAT)?

Lastly, keep this acronym in mind. When you touch a piece of paper you should either file it, act on it or toss it. If you follow this your paper mountain will always be manageable.

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Did you know that the average person spends 19 days a year looking for things and many of those are on paper like warranties, reports or articles?

 

Get that time back and stay ahead of the paper mountain. At ClutterBGone we have helped a lot of small businesses get organized. Contact us here to learn more about how we can assist you.

 

 

Take Control of Time At Your Office And Stay Organized With These 5 Tips

With the return of kids back to school it also means that a lot of the work force will be returning to work after having taken time off for vacations with the family. Summer can be a slow time for a lot of offices but now that summer is over it is back to it in high gear. Here are some tips to help you stay organized and save time right out of the gate.

You can’t always be available

We all like to always be available and have an “open door” policy but face it – interruptions take away from your train of thought and can be frustrating when trying to concentrate.do not disturb

It’s OK to close the door when working on something to let others know you can’t be interrupted. Better yet, if you can schedule an hour or so each day or a time each week where you cannot be disturbed others will soon get used to that timeframe and leave you alone. You will get more accomplished and be more productive.

Junk the junk mail

Email has been the greatest thing since the proverbial sliced bread but also can be the bane of our existence. We get hundreds of emails each day and it is easy to trash the junk mail but what about the emails where you are copied and no response is required by you? Some people like to send emails to as many people as they can think of to cover there you know what. Others you receive because you were in the meeting or run the department. Unless there is an urgent requirement for you to keep the email, junk it or if you feel the need to keep these emails then move it to a designated file rather than clogging up your in box. Keep your in box clean so you don’t feel overwhelmed when you open your mail.

Plan the week ahead

Whether you keep an electronic calendar or a manual one, schedule your week in advance.

planner I would suggest that you do this on Sunday evenings or at the latest, first thing Monday morning. What’s that old saying? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Those that do not plan out their week are found to be unorganized and always in a state of chaos.

Know your time limits

There is not normally a “volunteer of the year” award at work. Limit your attendance to meaningless meetings. It is great to be involved in company events but volunteering to be in more than one or two committees is time consuming both on your professional and your personal life. Know when to say no and give yourself permission to do so.

Take time to clean and purge

Just like taking time to yourself to get work done it is equally important to take the time each week to clean and organize your work space. A lot of mail and memos can be accumulated during the week making your desk look like a giant recycle bin. Take 10 minutes each day before you leave to tidy things up. I like to do so every day so when I come back to the office I am looking at a neat work space that doesn’t stress me out right from the beginning of the day.

Now that you are back into work mode we are sure these suggestions will help you stay organized and minimize stress at your office. If you need assistance in getting your office or work space organized for better productivity contact us at ClutterBGone.

I Felt Cheated Until I Lived With a Professional Organizer

It’s not very ofter that I have guest blogger on my site, but my husband insisted that he write a post about living with an organizer.  So, below you have it.  A husband’s point of view.

I have always thought I was a fairly neat and tidy person. Although I will admit that I am not the most organized person in the world, I didn’t really think I was disorganized. Let me tell you that living in the Toronto area and being the husband of a Professional Organizer will let you find out just how organized or disorganized you really are!

In the beginning you may be a tad annoyed with the way things seem to be organized and the need to keep it up, but eventually you become appreciative of those things that may have bothered you in the past. Let me give you a couple of examples:

Clothing organized

For a guy, how easy is it to maintain your wardrobe? You buy something new, pick up dry cleaning or put away your laundry by hanging it up or putting it in the drawers, right?

organized man clothes

Not so. I have learned that it helps if you hang your clothes according to colour and have all your shirts hanging the same way. Not only does this give you a neat appearance but it makes selecting your clothes a whole lot easier.

In and out

One in, one out rule for clothes – Originally this rule just seemed just plain silly to me. Why would you want to get rid of something just because something new came in? Well, it turns out this may just be the best advice an organizer can give you. Rather than having closets that are crammed to the point where nothing else will fit, or piled in a dresser drawer that is overflowing, I have learned that if you follow this simple rule you will always have a neat and organized clothing space with easy to find whatever you need.

Organized Kitchen

Just last week I put a frying pan away in the “wrong spot” and was “politely” reminded of where it lives. I use this as an example of why every thing needs a home. I can’t tell you the time I have wasted in the past looking for things that were in the wrong place.

organized cubby kitchen

A lot less time spent looking for things and a lot less frustration is the result of putting things back where they belong. Lesson learned.

Giving to the community

Giving back.  This is by far the most important lesson learned from living with a professional organizer. Rather than tossing out things that I no longer require I take the time to look at it and decide if it is in good enough shape to donate. There are so many organizations that can use and even depend on donations to help the less fortunate. Everything from clothing to toys to small appliances and even items of value that can be sold at charity stores or auctions can be used to help someone else.

So, yes, being married to a professional organizer can have its challenges, but it really does make life more calm, less stressful and more giving. I highly recommend it and I’m not just saying that because my wife is standing over my shoulder. Really.

Doug Ward, happy husband of a professional organizer.

Be The Most Organized Person In The World [Infographic]

Who wouldn’t want to be organized? From your closets and cupboards to your computer and workplace, being organized can save you a ton of time, money and frustration and make your life easier.

If you want to take your paper piles to files and go from clutter to calm in your home and office you’re in the right place. Your computer is a great place to start, moving from desktop to actual file folders, using a variety of digital applications to help you along the way. And when you are finished with your computer and office, move on to those other clutter hotspots such as your  bedroom, kitchen etc., where clutter and “stuff” tends to pile up when there is no organizational system in place.

There are so many Apps now available to make your life easier and clutter free, why not take advantage of all that is offered up to you!

Check out the Infographic below, on How To Be The Most Organized Person In The World, courtesy of thegreatist.com

 

Infographic on how to be super organized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Office Organizing

Sometimes when we’re organizing offices we need to be creative.  It may be because of a lack of space, needing the area for a multiple of purposes and activities, or simply because of the way our client’s function in the space.  For this particular project it was the latter.  Many of my clients are challenged with ADD and ADHD.   Although smart as a whip, our client is challenged with ADHD and therefore paperwork organization was difficult for him. Running a very successful business from home can have it’s drawbacks.  One of those drawbacks is that it can be overwhelming to keep up with all the paperwork that comes with the business. I can certainly attest to that in my own home office. Organization is really the key to maintaining any successful business.  Otherwise things gets lost through the cracks, including cheques!

I thoroughly enjoyed working hands on with this particular client.  He has an amazing sense of humour which can be very helpful for everyone when sorting through papers. Typically, when organizing business documents and paperwork we use file folders.  However, with this particular client, file folders was not a workable solution for him and his way of thinking and working in his space. At least not for his accounting paperwork.  He had already tried to organize with baskets and bins, however the system was not working because pieces were missing from the set up. Working with him we created a bin system of filing accounting papers as well as one special bin strictly to contain papers for filing when he just did not have the time to deal with it. This particular client was not fussy on fancy labelling or worried about aesthetics.  He simply needed a functional system for organizing his papers.  Here’s what we created and what now works efficiently for him:

System for organizing office papers

This may not be a workable solution for everyone but it proves that every client is different and we need to customize our solutions to fit our client’s needs, no matter how diverse. A simple and effective solution to organizing papers for easy filing. No fuss, no muss! What kind of filing system do you use?  I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

 

Creating A Kitchen Office

Let me say this right off the top:  I don”t advocate having an office in your kitchen.   Keeping your papers out of the kitchen, just as you would the food out of your office space, will ultimately make your like simpler.  Paper really doesn’t belong in the kitchen because every time you cook you have to organize and clear away all that paper.  Many a client has had dirty dishes over top their paperwork and sometimes the paperwork even ends up in the kitchen trash resulting in bills not getting paid.  The kitchen tends to be the most heavily used room in your home but that also means it can be a clutter magnet. In a perfect world everyone would have a separate space within their home for their office and paperwork. However some families cannot accommodate that ideal so we need to work around that.  In this case we need to create a boundary within the kitchen itself, in which to contain the office and the paper.

You need to start by designating one spot in your kitchen for your office. Then schedule about 3 hours to tackle those kitchen papers.  Start by sorting and weeding out obsolete papers.  Reduce the number of cookbooks. Donate those you no longer need. The remaining paperwork can be sorted into separate piles:  bills to pay, financial papers, office supplies, people to contact, things to read, kids’s school related paper, artwork, etc.  The next step is to set up a contained space within the kitchen for your office related papers, and a separate contained space for the kid’s school related paperwork. Have a bin for each child.

Make sure you create boundaries within the kitchen large enough to accomodate everything you need to process the daily paperwork. This boundary could be a single shelf or cupboard within which you place bins to contain different categories of items. Or perhaps you create a desk suface that can flip up and away when not in use. It may also be a 2 or three shelf movable storage unit that can act as your office containment space or your kid’s paperwork space.   In some cases it may not be the most attractive space in your home. Do your best to make it aesthetically pleasing with nice wicker or rattan baskets, using wood rather than plastic.  At least you will have taken control, created boundaries for where things live and activities take place and have established a spot for day to day living that is useful and efficient. Make life simpler, not harder!

Organizing A Home Office

There are many people out there that work from or at home and have set up a home office for their needs.  However, sometimes the business of running your business gets out of control and you end up with paper clutter and debris everywhere.  A large number of people who contact me for organizing assistance have this very same issue. Especially when the business is growing very quickly, it’s difficult to keep up.  Here’s an example of one client whose business was growing so rapidly that his office ended up overtaking his billiards room!

Home Office & Billiards Room before organizing

 

After we were finished organizing and setting up efficient office systems in a designated office space we discovered a pool table underneath all that stuff which had not been seen or used in over 2 years!

Billiards Room after organizing

My client picked up his pool cue, set up the table, and played his first game of billiards on this table in 2 years. He was a happy man. Do any of you have paper or other clutter so overwhelming that you can’t utilize one of the rooms in your home for it’s intended purpose?