Tips to Get Organized in 2011

Is one of your resolutions for 2011 to get organized?  In a survey conducted by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) in November of 2008, a whopping 96% of the people surveyed said they would save time every day if they were more organized.  But besides saving time, being more organized can reduce stress, increase productivity and simplify your home or office workflow. 

One of the difficulties with getting organized is simply finding the time to do it.  Another is feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.   Here are some tips to help you get started without feeling defeated before you even start:

  •  Start with an area that really bothers you or makes you unproductive.  If you organize that area alone, the payback can be substantial.  This may be your office, your desk at home, your files, the way you handle incoming mail and bills. 
  • Don’t feel like you have to organize an entire office or workspace in one day.   Set small goals and accomplish one goal at a time. 
  • Set aside a few minutes a day to organize.   Imagine if you set aside just 10 minutes a day.  That seems like something you could fit in, right?  Take that 10 minutes and just tackle one drawer in a filing cabinet, one bookshelf, or the top of your desk.  If you can set aside that 10 minutes almost every day (or even just 4 or 5 days a week), think of the progress you can make over time.
  • Optimize your work area by putting things you use often at your fingertips.  Put away items that are rarely used so they don’t take up valuable work space.  
  • Take control of your time.  In today’s world of email, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it’s easy to get bogged down with communications.  Set aside times of the day when you make yourself unavailable for email and social media and use those times to work on your highest priority projects.
  • Regarding email, if you don’t already have a strong spam filter, that may be your best investment from a productivity standpoint.  Not having to filter through hundreds of spam emails every day can save time to read and respond to important messages.  
  • Try to handle email systematically . . . . make a choice to delete, file, respond or follow up when you first read the message.  Delete, file and respond items can be handled immediately.  Follow up items can be flagged and worked on later.
  • Set aside a block of time each day to respond to emails that have been flagged for follow up.
  • Set limits on the amount of anything you will buy or keep.  This applies to sundries like paper towels, napkins, and so forth but also to office supplies (pens, paper, tape, post it notes), kitchen utensils, and even clothing.
  • Always have donation containers handy for everything from clothing to books to household items.  If you find you are keeping something that you don’t need, want or use, consider donating it.  Remember that something you don’t use or need can be a true gift to someone less fortunate.

Above all, don’t let the need to get organized add to your stress.

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