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Office Tips: How to Become More Organized

If you need a clerical help on an urgent matter who would you prefer, a quick witted person with a messy desk or an average person with a tidy and organized desk? If you are reasonable enough you would choose the latter over the former. Why?

When it comes to the flow of documents, objects or information, organization is important. You can be anybody, a nurse, a programmer, an artist, a musician or a student, without organization, your life will be full of clutter. You waste a lot of time searching for the tools or information you need at any point of time. Worse still, your mind is cluttered and confused with all the mess around you.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can be more organized, and in turn be more efficient and have a clearer mind:

Group and label your physical documents and materials

All hard copy documents and materials should be grouped and labeled. Put them in files or racks according to their subject and sort them by date or alphabetical order, depends on how you prefer it to be searchable by. Similarly books should be grouped in partitions according to their subject and each partition should be labeled to ease searching. If the document or material doesn't belong to any group or is temporarily on your desk, put them in a container or rack that labels 'Temporary' or 'In Review'. The important point here is everything must have its own place or group, nothing is homeless.

Arrange things according to their frequency of access

Put the frequently accessed things within your reach so that you don't have to get up to reach for them every time you want to use them. The least frequently accessed should be put in a special place far from your reach such as in a cabinet so as not to overcrowd your working area with too much stuff. The rule is the lesser the frequency you access it, the further you put it from your working area.

Use folders to organize e-mails

Do not leave your e-mails forever in the Inbox. Move it to another folder after you read it. Delete e-mails that you don't need anymore. E-mails that may be used as reference in the future should be put in a folder labeled 'Important'. E-mails that need follow up should be put in a folder labeled 'Need follow up'. By right, your Inbox should be empty after you finish reading all the e-mails.

Plan your day

Before you start working, take a few minutes to roughly plan your day. Group similar needs together. For example, documents or assignments that need your boss confirmation or approval should be grouped together, so that they can be settled one shot whenever you have the chance to meet your boss.

Plan your to do list carefully according to the nature of the task and your preference. One effective method of doing your to do list is the Kanban method. It is a method used in manufacturing and software development, but can also be used by individuals, which is known as Personal Kanban.

Use sticky pads as reminder and for frequently accessed information

Write information that you frequently use or need during emergency on sticky pads and stick on one area near your sit which is within your view. The janitor's telephone number or the number of a contact person that you frequently call are among the examples. If you are using the sticky pads to remind you of an important task, stick it at the side of your monitor or near your keyboard; a place where you can easily see when you are busy working.

Use digital calendar or organizer as reminder

Put your events and meetings information in a digital calendar as in Microsoft Outlook or in smart phones. Set the reminder to alert you of the upcoming event or meetings to get you well prepared for them.

Clear up your desk every time before you leave

Every time before you leave your office at the end of the day, clear up your desk and your place so that there is nothing left lying around. Put everything in its own place. Throw away rubbish and put the unknown or unsure ones in one special place for it, such as 'Temporary' or 'In Review' rack.

Finally, the most important thing is to be consistent. Without consistency, you can easily get back to disorganization. Make it a habit to put things back into its place immediately after using it. Always update your calendar and follow you own rules of organization. Being organized is not a one time matter, but it is a habit that should be maintained and improved from time to time.

About the author: Nur Nuha loves her work as a freelance writer. Feel free to contact her at nurnuha@learn-wisely.com