How to exorcise your demons of disorganization

by Ian McKenzie on February 20, 2013

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Time is money, the adage goes, and lots of money gets lost in being disorganization. Disorganization is so prevalent in the workplace that the  estimates a typical office worker wastes 150 hours a year – almost one month – searching for misplaced information. For someone earning $50,000 a year, that translates to a loss of $3,842 a year.

If a lack of organization has your head spinning, take possession of schedule and workspace with this guide eliminating to these six disorganization demons.

  1.  – Barbara Hemphill, author of The Paper Tiger, offers the FAT principle for paper burden: file it, act on it, or toss it. Once you’ve thrown away as much as possible, file everything else into an effective retrieval system or a hard-paper filing system.Sort your files into the following groups according to how often you need them:
    1. Action Files: store in a desk drawer, desk-top file box or anywhere else that’s easy to reach.
    2. Reference Files: store in a convenient location close to your desk.
    3. Archive Files: store in a filing cabinet or an off-site location.
  2.  – Managers can spend an average of 17 hours a week in meetings, and that doesn’t include preparation and follow-up time. If you’re holding a meeting, draw up an agenda and circulate it to the staff attending beforehand. Set time limits for each topic, then stick to them.Other time-saving tricks:
    1. schedule the meeting when people are inclined to be brief: before lunch or the end of the day.
    2. invite as few people as possible to limit discussion.
  3. Manage drop-in visitors – Reduce “people clutter” by placing in/out trays outside your space to avoid being disturbed by staff. Keep the office door closed. If you have an open-door policy, place your back to the entrance, or face away from your cubicle entry to indicate your unavailability. If staff still insist on speaking with you, stand immediately and walk toward your visitor and cordially ask the purpose of the visit.
  4. Schedule telephone calls – Before returning calls, note what you want to say and what you want to find out beforehand. Be brief and to the point, and let the person know that your time is limited. If the discussion is likely to take longer, suggest another date when more time is available. When placing calls, respect the time of other employees by immediately asking if you have phoned at a convenient time or should call back later.
  5.  – Plan when you’re going to tackle tasks and allow enough time to complete all or part of them. Work on difficult jobs first, or at a time when you’re at peak performance, saving the less stressful tasks for when you have less energy.
  6.  – If you’re in a position to delegate, the general rule is to pass along work to one of your staff if he or she can do it 80 per cent as well as you can. Make sure the person doesn’t already have a full plate, and give them a deadline. If you’re on the receiving end of delegation, learn to say no if your schedule is full, or find out what isn’t urgent and leave it for another day. If you don’t have a choice, ask for guidance on priorities.
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