Do you have a hard time keeping your files and papers organized? Whether you’re a small-business owner or an administrator of any sort for a larger firm, you know it’s important to organize your paperwork.
And yet when your papers start getting out of control, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Maybe you keep avoiding the ever-growing paper pile on your desk because you’re not sure how to even start to organize it.
We’ve all been there. The best way to start organizing a messy office full of papers is simply to decide you’re going to do it and follow an action plan.
When you have a plan in place for how you’ll tackle the mess, it makes the task seem much less daunting. So in this article, we’re showing you exactly how to tackle that messy paperwork and keep it organized.
1. GATHER YOUR TOOLS.
First thing’s first—in order to create an organized system for your papers, you need to have certain materials handy. I recommend that you have:
- A shredder
- Stamps and labels
- A filing cabinet
- A calendar or planner
These tools will come in handy as you’re organizing your office papers.
2. SET A SYSTEM IN PLACE FOR YOUR MESSY PAPERWORK.
Now that you have your tools, you need to decide where papers will go as you’re organizing them. If you’re a small-business owner, setting a system in place might mean creating folders for each year’s tax paperwork, estimates/proposals, invoices, receipts, legal documents, and so forth.
Get this system set up before you start organizing. You don’t want to let miscellaneous papers dictate your system. By creating a system first, you ensure that the organization makes sense.
3. START LABELING AND ORGANIZING YOUR PAPERWORK.
Don’t let the mess intimidate you. Start with one section in your office, perhaps your desk. We tend to leave important documents on our desks because we want to keep them close. Those are the papers that need to be filed first.
As you’re going through your office mess, you’ll find plenty of papers that you don’t need to save anymore. Those are for the shredder.
Papers that you still want to keep for reference need to be marked and placed in the appropriate folders. I recommend using custom stamps to make this step easier! With one swift motion, you can mark papers as needed.
Stamps make it easier to mark your papers as “Paid,” “Overdue,” “For Deposit Only,” and so on. They also make it easier to endorse your checks and mark a return address on your letters.
Then, once you’ve marked your papers and placed them in folders, you need to put those folders in a filing cabinet in an order that makes sense to you.
Lastly, having a calendar or planner handy will help as you find papers that have important due dates on them. Sometimes we hang on to papers because we don’t have time to mark the dates in our calendars. Save yourself some space by marking the right date on your planner and tossing the unnecessary paper.
4. MAINTAIN A SYSTEM TO KEEP YOUR PAPERS ORGANIZED.
Don’t let your hard work go to waste by letting your papers pile up again. Make a commitment to yourself that, whenever you get a new piece of paper handed to you, you either:
- Deal with it immediately or
- File it immediately
If it’s something you need to deal with that day, but you just don’t have time to handle it in that moment, create a folder that you keep on your desk labeled “To Do Today.” Then make sure you deal with those papers before the end of each day.
That might sound like a lot of extra work to you, but it actually saves you time. If a few seconds of immediate filing can save you four hours of in-depth cleaning and organizing, it’s worth it. Would you agree?
SCHEDULE YOUR ORGANIZING DAY
If reading this article has made you realize that you need to organize your office paperwork, my challenge to you is to set a date, block off a few hours, and get to work!
Don’t let your papers keep piling up. An organized office will help you better focus on what you do best, whether that’s running your business, managing your boss’ schedule, or tracking financial records.
Get your stamps and start organizing today!