Spring Cleaning – 3 Steps to Declutter Office Paper

Your “mess” may be comfortable to you, but it might make others in your office very uncomfortable!

You know where everything is and you can find that important piece of paper quickly. Still, if it looks like the paper is winning the battle for control of your work area, you may be losing face with your co-workers, and more importantly, with your boss!

We’ve heard that we would someday be working in a “paperless office”. But, computer reports, printed e-mails, high-speed copiers and technology in general have all conspired to increase paper in the workplace. Sometimes it seems that most of it ends up on your desk!

Some people may feel that their job is more secure if they “look” busy. But clutter can signal a lack of control. A cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind. Employers view clutter as inefficiency, so if you appear too busy, maybe you are just inefficient. Inefficiency costs money and that is not a good way to get recognized.

Here are some simple ways to get the paper under control. After all, no one is really prepared for the endless supply of paperwork that attacks us all:

1. Get rid of the piles. Dump anything that you might, possibly, could, maybe use, read or act on “someday”.

2. Set up five files as follows:

    a. A “tickler file” by date of future work – items you can’t do this week. Move next week’s tasks to active each Friday.
    b. An “active file” for current work – all due this week in priority sequence by day. This is the basis for your daily “TO DO” list.
    c. A “meeting folder” for topics pertinent to specific meetings or for articles you want to read while you wait for the meeting to begin.
    d. Create “The Boss” folder for issues that concern your employer.
    e. Folders for subordinates or colleagues by name – for regular meetings with your people – not confidential material.

3. Label anything that is on, in or around your desk. You should be able to go on vacation and be comfortable that your boss or subordinates can find important information – easily.

Your desk is now organized, labeled and task oriented. Take care of urgent issues as they come up. Don’t waste time filing them. If possible, put all of these files away at the end of each day so your desk is clear of paperwork.

There is another benefit to clearing the mess and organizing your work area. When you are in control of your space, your mind will be more alert, confident and creative. You will impress those around you, including your boss, with your command of your job. You will be ready for your boss’s questions, prepared for meetings, and able to complete tasks on time. You might even have time to think! Who would dare “mess” with you?

How do you manage your paper clutter? Let us know!