Posted by: Mitchell H. Kirsch
Category: Cubicle Life
A sensible office filing system can do wonders for a business on the rise. For the efficient office, organizing the office / filing paperwork can create a good impression on clients. For marginally-performing offices, getting organized can multiply efficiency and productivity, getting it from the red into the black in no time.
For the former, a good impression is no joke – sure, you might have a mental handle on your cluttered office filing (or piling?) system, but visiting clients are not privy to your thoughts. Monica Ricci lays out the scenario:
Imagine meeting an attorney for the first time whose office is a cluttered mess – papers piled all over the desktop, mail and files scattered on the credenza, and an overloaded bookcase with stacks of books on top and on the floor. Regardless of the actual skill or reputation of that attorney, might your first impression be a negative one? Might your confidence in that attorney be lessened as well? In business, first impressions are important.
Motivated yet? We’ve rustled up the web’s best organizing tip sheets to find the best office filing and organizing advice you can use. Let’s start with managing paper buildup, that old office adversary.
Paper: Name ‘em to tame ‘em. Simple office filing conventions for naming documents, document versions – and keeping them consistent between paper and digital versions – can reduce clutter and increase focus in the workplace.
As Laura Leist of the National Association of Professional Organizers puts it, “versioning control and consistent naming conventions are really key to document management and being able to easily retrieve files.”
Get a proper office filing cabinet. As LifeHacker’s Gina Trapani puts it, “Give your paperwork a spacious place to live.” Your office ought to have a serious, high-quality receptacle for your paperwork, like an honest-to-goodness office filing cabinet. One with enough room for expected business expansion – buying overlarge is much better than buying one too small and having to purchase another.
Trapani quotes David Allen, author of the book Getting Things Done:
If you value your cuticles, and if you want to get rid of your unconscious resistance to filing, then you must keep the drawers loose enough that you can insert and retrieve files without effort.
Make time for office filing. “Clutter is so often the result of a time management problem rather than an actual organizing problem,” explains Julie Morgenstern, a productivity consultant and the author of Organizing from the Inside Out.
The problem begins when managers don’t make organizing a priority, which usually results from bad time management. If managers are conscious of how much time tasks take to complete and schedule accordingly, that’s half the problem solved.
Morgenstern recommends visualizing task durations, then scheduling accordingly. This takes work – estimating the actual time it takes to complete a task requires practice, and newbies should add 25 percent to the end of each initial esetimate.
In the end, says Morgenstern, office filing as a top priority shouldn’t take a big slice out of your working day. “If you can, build in 15 minutes at the end of the day to put everything back where it belongs,” she advises.