When it comes to organizing your office, sometimes it's hard to know where to start. This is especially true if you haven't seen your desktop in weeks/months/years and are drowning in paperwork! As a Professional Organizer, I get many calls from people who are just fed up with their mountain of paperwork and either need some advice or just want me to come clear up the clutter and create an easy-to-use filing system for them. For this reason, I'd like to share 10 simple steps anyone can use to organize their office and paperwork.
- Take a "Before" picture of your office space. Doing so will help you realize just how much you've accomplished when you've completed your office organizing project!
- Gather six large bins/boxes- one for each of the following: papers that need shredded, things to be donated, paperwork to be filed, items that belong in another room, items that will stay in the office, trash.
- Start with your paperwork... give yourself at least two hours for this task alone. Each piece of paper is to be placed in one of three bins: shred, file or trash. You are not organizing at this time- just separating.
- Move on to the other items in your office (one area at a time). The items that don't belong in your office will go in your "other room" bin, trash goes in "trash", donations in "donations". Still, you are not organizing. This may take another two hours.
- Now, everything but your furniture and office equipment should be in one of your six bins! If not, keep separating!
- Every organizing job includes at least a little cleaning... now is the time! Dust and wipe down your desk, counters, shelves, equipment, computer screen, etc. Sweep/mop/vacuum the floors. Clean everything well.
- Now it is time to organize! I like to use a paper filing system vs. computer, but you may be different. Either way, make sure you have some file folders (either paper or computer). Make them as specific as possible so you can easily find what you are looking for in the future. Here are some typical categories: auto insurance, auto loan, auto maintenance, homeowner's insurance, home loan, home maintenance, health insurance, medical files (break down per person in home), warranties, manuals, tax records, pay stubs, credit reports, bank statements (separate per account), utilities, etc.
- Create a mail station. Incoming Mail, Outgoing Mail, To File, To Pay, Coupons, Etc. (learn about how I use a Sunday Basket for these documents)
- Organize everything else (your "office" bin) and place where it makes the most sense and looks nice. Move your "other room" items to the room(s) where they belong, throw your "trash" away, shred the paper in your "shred" bin, and take your "donations" to your place of choice.
- Great job! You should now have an organized office! Take your "After" picture, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, post your success story with pictures on Facebook/Twitter (be proud of your results) and enjoy your new office space!