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How to Organize Office Files

How to Organize Office Files

If you want to get your home office in order, it's all-important to have the right organizing tools. Here are three absolutely basic, essential tools you need to keep the mess in your life at bay. A surprising number of people don't have these three tools at all, or don't have ones that work, or don't have enough of them.
All three will help you deal with the toughest organizing challenge in today's world: paper clutter.
Why is paper such a problem? Because it arrives at your door every single day: every time you pick up the mail, get the paper, buy a house, car, or major appliance, invest your money, pay your taxes, or go to the doctor.

Essential Organizing Tool #1: Trash Cans and Recycling Bins

You need at least one roomy trash can and recycling bin for your office (and every single room in your home.) This makes it easy to throw away trash and unwanted papers, instead of letting them build up on all your flat surfaces. EVERY room needs them -- including bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and workshops. You may need several for large rooms that are heavily used or have zones for different activities.
Put trash and recycling containers wherever clutter builds up -- next to your desk, at the printer or copier, at the chair where you sit to read the paper, or any other areas where you use paper. Don't be frugal about this. The reason: if the wastebasket is too far from where you are when you decide to throw something away, the item will get piled up in the nearest flat spot, adding to the clutter in your environment.
It's best to locate wastebaskets out in the open, where you can throw garbage in them from across the room. Putting them behind cabinet doors just makes them harder to use. The harder your trash containers are to use, the less you will use them. And you know what that means... piles that grow and grow and grow. (Not pretty!)

Organizing Essential #2: A Good Desk

Maybe you run a business out of your office. Maybe you just run your household. Either way, you need to manage a number of functions: scheduling, paying bills, managing your money, and keeping track of your ongoing activities. To keep on top of clutter, you need a good place to organize all of these essential tasks. That means you need a good desk. You need a desk to work on even if you don't have enough space to make one of your rooms a dedicated home office.
Yet many people try to manage a home with no desk at all, or one that's too small, or has too little storage to be useful.
What makes a good desk? Here are some things to shop for.
  • Your desk should have a surface that's big enough for you to spread out your papers while you work. Get the biggest desk your space will allow.
  • It needs to be comfortable to work at. Don't try to fit yourself into a desk that cramps your legs or has a hutch that looms over you and makes you uneasy.
  • Your desk needs a good storage space for office supplies like pens, stapler, paper clips, and other essentials. If you don't have other places to put your supplies and reference books, your desk needs spots for those things.
  • You need to like it. You won't use a desk whose style, shape, or color you don't like. And a desk you don't use is no good at all for staying organized.

Organizing Essential #3: A Good File Cabinet

Everyone has important papers that need to be kept for the short or long term: insurance policies, IDs and passports, and tax records, to name a few. Everyone needs a place to put important papers like these so they can be found again when they are needed. The best tool for this is a full-suspension file cabinet.
Unless your work is particularly paper-intensive, you probably need only two file drawers. Your file cabinet doesn't have to be large or elaborate, but it does need to have drawers that open and close easily. A good metal file cabinet will last forever. Don't waste your money on a cheap one. Horizontal file cabinets (long side goes against the wall) fit better into most rooms than vertical ones (long side juts out from the wall).
Here are the essentials you need to set up an effective filing system:
  • A hanging file rack to go in each of your file drawers.
  • Hanging file folders that slide easily on the rack. Inside each hanging folder, you can fit up to three manila file folders for individual items or projects, such as "Car Insurance" or "Current Year Tax Records."
  • Labels on each hanging and manila folder so you know what is in each one.

Effective Filing for Visual People

Maybe you are one of the many people who don't like filing their paperwork in a file cabinet. If this is you, it could be because you are a visual person who needs to be able to see the papers you are working on. For visual people, a file cabinet can feel like a dark pit where papers disappear, never to be found again. What works better for visual people is a metal desktop file that organizes your essential papers out where you can see them.
The size of your desk should not be too small or too large for the space. A desk that is too large for the space can make you feel congested. If your desk is small and you need more room, you ca place a table next to your desk which will also add to the elegance of your office design and serve as an extra space for work. As much as possible, look for a table that is proportion to the height of your desk as well as the color finish should also be the same. You should also have the proper furniture in which you can hold all your office essentials such a fax machine, photo copier, etc. By giving some of your office essentials their own separate space, you'll be able to gain a lot of work space as well as organize your office.
A printer or multifunction copier that is not placed on the desktop is a good example. Having a printer stand for your printer will keep it within reach and will give you more valuable desk space. Plus, it can also give you more space where you can store your office accessories such as printer papers. Also, try to check if you have enough rooms for all your books or files.
Maybe you need to invest in either a free standing or built-in bookshelf. It is also very beneficial to put your desk in a place easily accessible to the other office equipments. Or maybe you constantly needed to go in and out the file cabinet. In order to make it easier, the solution is to place the filing cabinet directly behind your desk to avoid constant getting up and down from your chair. Or you can also make the pathways wide enough for your chair to pass by so that you'll just have to roll your chair back and forth to the other office equipments.
Your desk is also one of the common areas that can easily be cluttered or disorganized. You should put only the things that are needed to be on the desk. Organizing papers properly is also one of the key in creating an un-cluttered desk top.
Be sure to put a label on each project folder and/or files that are found on your desktop. You can get rid of stacks of files by having them placed in a step file holder on your desktop which will make various projects that need your attention be easily visible to you at a glance. You may also want to use stacking trays as your "inbox" and "outbox". They can save you more space as well as keep your office desktop neat and tidy.
You should pay attention to the drawers of the desk too. There are assorted plastic trays and caddies available at office supply stores and chain retailers including those that are design to fit into a desk drawer perfectly. They can be used to organize office supplies by having those loose pens, thumb tacks, and paper clips placed within them. Look and check around the floor of your desk also to ensure that this has not become a dumping area for things that you don't have a space for.
It is really simple to maintain your office once it is already organized. It only takes five to ten minutes to be spent in putting things away at the end of the day. This is a simple way of having an assurance that things will not be getting out of control once again.
Don't you hate it when you can't find an important document on your extremely cluttered office desk? Don't you wish there was some way to re-organize your office desk, so that it would be easier for you to find stuff? Nothing kills work productivity than a disorganized office desk. But there is a way by which you can solve this problem in less than fifteen minutes.
The first thing you should to is clear your desk of everything except for your desktop computer. That way you can have a clearer idea of where you want to place your stuff. You should buy two document trays and place them on your desk. In one tray, you should place all the incoming documents. On the other one, you should place the outgoing ones.
That way you won't be confused about which documents you have or haven't read yet. Documents you no longer need shouldn't be placed on your office desk, you should buy an extra box or a shelf in which can serve as your document archive. You won't believe how much space on your desk is being occupied by useless files and folders.
What if you have books on your desk? Unless you are currently in the process of reading the book then it shouldn't be on your desk. If you don't have one already, you should buy one in order to place all of your books whether for work or leisure reading. Keep in mind not to place trinkets or souvenirs in front of your books on the shelf because they will make it harder for you to reach books when you need them.
Then, you should buy a pencil cup holder in which you can place all your writing materials and perhaps even your stapler, paper clips, and so on. Now you will have lots of space on your desk not just for your work, but for some of your personal belongings at well. Put a nice picture frame containing a photo of you with your family on your desk to serve as inspiration while you work.
Now that your desk looks like a real office desk instead of a garbage dump, you can work much better and in peace.
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