Thursday, July 25, 2013
Not all of us are naturally organised, and those of us who would feel more at home in a rubbish tip than a palace know exactly who we are. We might start out with the best of intentions, but without the time or inclination to keep things neat and tidy we can find ourselves drowning in a deluge of documents and information in the workplace. So how can the organisationally challenged among us get our desks and work lives into order?
If your desk is a disaster, start small. The golden rule is to tackle daunting tasks in small chunks. Dedicate just five minutes of each day sorting through everything. Old receipt? Bin it. Important document? File it. Forgotten letter? Post it. This makes it less of a challenge and means that you will barely notice you’re doing anything. A week or two later and your desk will be as good as new. Now the challenge is to keep it that way...
If you’re always losing track of documents, both paper and digital, consider asking your office manager about document management systems. These involve collating all of the company’s documents into one central space where they are stored and can be opened centrally, and hard copies of documents and information can be scanned and uploaded into the same system so that everything can be found in one place. This way, locating exactly what you want is a breeze, and you don’t need to rummage around for the single crumpled copy of a vital letter you need!
Not every office will still use a paper filing system, but if yours does, take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with it so you don’t waste time ploughing through reams of unnecessary paper every time you need to check something or put something away. If you don’t already have a paper filing system but still keep a lot of paper copies, raise the issue with your team and come up with an easy filing system, such as using colour coding or specific shelves dedicated to certain document types.
Unfortunately, if you’re one of life’s tidy people, you’ll be fighting a losing battle if you work in a team with an aversion to folders, staplers and organised desktops. The best thing you can do is stress to them the importance of respecting others and taking care of resources. It is unfair to expect someone else to have to search through your desk or to track down an obscurely named document on the computer system, so remind people that a little organisation can go a long way when it comes to keeping your workplace efficient and harmonious.
Carly Edgbaston is an office productivity consultant helping businesses get organised and improve efficiency.