Do stacks of paper have your office functioning more like a maze than the well-oiled machine you envision? Do you buy duplicate thingamajigs because you can't find the one you have? Not sure where to begin? Get a jump-start with this list of New Year's resolutions for organizing.
1. Get a new planner. There are all kinds of planners out there, so shop around for one you really love. Why? You're more likely to actually use it to block out time for important projects, including getting organized. "By far the most important office supply for us is a yellow ruled notebook," declares Ryan Wallace, with iPhone Antidote in San Francisco. "While this is quite simple, it allows me to keep to-do lists and keep my mind organized. Being able to always have my yellow notepad on my desk allows for complete mental clarity." Looking for something a little snappier? Consider a Moleskine professional notebook, which features detachable to-do lists and an expandable pocket to organize loose papers like receipts or business cards.
2. Rearrange your workspace. Nothing slows down efficiency like a messy workspace. One easy organizational fix: Prioritizing the piles.Sort the documents, giving each hot project its own special space on your desk. Use multiple letter trays for more active projects or jobs. Take organization to the next level with colorful desktop and drawer organizers so everything's handy, or with cable management products to organize power and USB cords. Learn how to efficiently manage office paperwork.
3. Rethink file systems. Erin Long Bergeson, CPA and principal with ELAC in Chapin, SC, advises determining a system that works for you. "Go monthly if that helps, or by names of customers and vendors. ...The real key is consistency." Then start wrangling those files!
Physical Files. Washington, D.C.-based Kim Oser, certified professional organizer¨ and productivity coach, suggests hanging file folders with subcategory interior file folders for physical documents. File cabinets may be the perfect storage solution, but some project files may be more functional stored in a sturdy cardboard or plastic file box. Consider scanning critical documents so you have a backup copy. "Electronic is always better," promises Bergeson. "That doesn't mean toss the paper version, though," she says.
Digital Files. Use the same structure for the files on your computers and devices. Then buy a backup drive and cloud storage for redundancy and restoration. Plus, with cloud-based storage you can access electronic files from anywhere at any time.
4. Deploy designer organization. Leaving some of your tools, samples or books in full view is functional and fun. Use storage furniture, decorative boxes and baskets or clear or colorful storage bins and totes to keep these items on display, easy to access and orderly.
5. Stow stock & supplies. Stockrooms and storage areas can become the hidden monsters of any business. Storage drawers collect smaller items in one place, while storage cabinets and shelving handle bigger items and quantities. With the order and space you create, you can save on bulk purchases because you now know how much you need and how much you can store. Own a retail small business? Invest in backroom storage designed specifically to meet retailers' organizational needs.
Don't accept chaos as the status quo for your small business; now is the perfect time to get and stay organized.