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Organize + Energize: The Office Product You Need to Stop Using Now

Tuesday, May 03, 2016


I’ve worked in many different types of disorganized offices. There are many common themes that I find, but today I’m going to discuss one.  People have stacks of papers in horizontal filing trays.  Do you utilize these trays in your office?  I know what you are going to say! I hear it all the time. You’ll say you know exactly what’s in those piles and you know where everything is.  I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. 

What’s in that tray?

I find cash, uncashed checks, gift cards, and missed business opportunities. There are also important papers that my clients had been searching for or they forgot they had and papers that should have been thrown out years ago. These trays are stacked with piles of postponed decisions and they are a distraction and hamper productivity.  The paper gets stacked here because there isn’t a system to process it when it arrives in the office. 

The process

So, how do you tackle this pile? Take the pile out of the tray and then remove the tray and don’t put it back unless you have a really great use for it. You’ll find that you are shredding or throwing out most of it. So if you are throwing it out now, did you really need it back when you put it in the pile? When you are going through the piles, do not try to create your systems. If you do this, you’ll get distracted, lose focus and you’ll set yourself back. You want to be as efficient as possible during this process. As you go through, just decide what you are keeping and tossing. When you are done categorizing, now you can set up your filing systems based on what you have in front of you.  Stop and take the time to think about how you want to function going forward. Put the work in to develop these new systems. Don’t just go back to your old ways.

Choose a better product.

There are so many great office organizing products out there. Choose the one that is going to best fit what you need to hold and is going to be the most efficient and productive product for you. Don't choose a product that is going to be a drop spot for papers that you have no idea what to do with. It will become a breeding ground for paper and will create more work for you months down the road when you need to dig through it. 

If you develop working, efficient organized systems, these paper piles will never form again. Once your system is developed, the paper will enter your office, and you’ll tackle it right away, file it, attach to a to-do list, shred it, toss it, or attach to your calendar to tackle at the appropriate time.  

Going forward, you’ll find what you are looking for when you need it, saving you time, money, energy, and you’ll keep your sanity intact.

Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, is an organizing & efficiency expert and owner of Organizing in RI. Kristin teaches her clients that living an organized lifestyle will save them time and money, decrease their stress levels and help them become more efficient and productive. Her articles have been published in local and national magazines. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to begin. She is also available for organizing workshops.


Related Slideshow: 10 Minute Organizing Projects

Declutter and Organize

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As you take all of the spices out of the cabinet, check for expiration dates and smell for potency. Categorize and itemize your spices to how you utilize them. Contain them in a spice rack that fits the space where they are kept. Don’t purchase a spice rack until you are finished organizing. You want to measure the space and make sure the rack fits and holds all of your spices. There are a variety of spice racks out there. Choose the one that best suits what you need it to hold.

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How many items do you touch in the morning to find what you need?  You want to be as efficient as possible in the morning and having your makeup organized will be a big time saver. Do you have difficulty deciding what to keep or toss? When is it time to throw away makeup?  Aline Sarkis, a Providence, RI-based makeup artist, states lipstick can be used for 2 years or until it starts to smell like a crayon. Mascara is good for 2-3 months. Eye shadow is good for 2 years and foundation is good for 1-2 years. Aline also states that some makeup and skincare will be marked with an expiration date of 6-12 months. Begin counting once you start using the product

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Women: Purse

Depending on the size of your purse, and what you keep in your purse, this may take you a little longer than 10 minutes. Empty the entire contents of the purse on a table. Declutter, categorize, and itemize the contents. Break this process  down and take it one category at a time. Develop a system going forward so the inside of your purse doesn’t look like a cyclone hit it. Contain receipts, gift cards, money, and makeup.

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Men: Wallet

It’s time to empty all of the receipts out of your wallet. Do you also store receipts and random items in your car? While you are tackling this project, head over to your vehicle and declutter the center console and glove compartment.

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Underwear drawer

If you aren’t using drawer organizers, you should start now. They are very inexpensive and will maximize the space in the drawer. How many of you wear the same item over and over again? With drawer organizers in place, you will be able to see everything you own and can categorize and itemize. Nothing will ever get pushed to the bottom of the drawer again.

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Under the bathroom sink

If you haven’t taken everything out of this area in awhile, you may find some scary items under the sink. Empty the contents, itemize, and categorize. Throw away anything that you can’t recognize. Contain items in containers that fit the space like a puzzle. Once again, utilizing containers will maximize the space and allow you to store more items. Develop a simple system where you can locate items and locate them quickly.

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Ninety percent of my clients have a pet. It’s time to organize their belongings. Medicine, leashes, bandanas, clothes, dishes, food, etc. Take this time to also organize any paper work related to your pet. Set up a filing system for your pet. Keep their medical records, rabies and vaccination information categorized in these files.

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Junk drawer

Nobody says you can’t have a junk drawer. Junk drawers can be organized. You just have to think about if you need everything in this drawer and if there is a better place to store the items. Remember, store like items together. If you have tools in the junk drawer, maybe you should keep them with the tools in the basement.

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Office supply drawer

So many people have office supply drawers that are out of control. Money is wasted on purchasing duplicate office supplies. It’s very difficult to figure out what you need to purchase if items are scattered all over the office and are disorganized.

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Top of your office desk

If you can’t see the top of your desk, take this time to focus on this area and categorize and itemize what is there. Do you have a working filing system in place?  If so, once your desk is cleared, make a habit of filing once a day or a couple of times a week. If your system isn’t working for you, it may be time for you to re-evaluate your system and make it work for the way you function.


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