Organizing Tips For Your Office
Being organized at the office involves managing a few key activities effectively:
The increase in productivity from investing a small amount of time in efficiently managing these activities upfront is more than worth the result.
Keeping up with the daily onslaught of emails is a major challenge for most of us, both personally & professionally. The following tips will help you manage the daily flow of emails:
- Create an electronic filing cabinet, much like the physical cabinets you have, with electronic folders for category names
- Once emails have been read and responded to (if an action is required), move the email from your inbox to your storage folders. This makes it easy to track which emails still need an action. Many companies impose limits on 'inbox' size. By moving your mail out of your inbox to a personal folder, an added benefit is that the restriction on size will not interrupt your day at precisely the moment you need to send an email.
- If your email program includes previous email content for that email string when replying, be sure to delete earlier versions of the string to avoid redundant emails filed. This makes it much easier to find the latest copy in the string when searching later.
- If your email has an attachment file, detach and save it as a file in your electronic filing system for future reference, so you won't have to go searching through your emails to find the file later. Relying on email subject headings can create a time consuming search for the file later.
- If you frequently send the same type of email, save a copy as a draft or template that you can reuse over & over (changing the specifics such as name, date and amount for each email)
- If a document is available electronically, but you refer to it frequently, print it and keep it in a hanging file or on your desktop.
- Every 6 months or so, go through your folders and delete emails no longer needed. This will save disk space and make your searches more streamlined.
- When you leave a voice mail for someone, if the issue you are calling about is a straightforward question, ask it on voice mail to avoid playing telephone tag. Also, encourage the responder to leave the answer on your voice mail if they miss you. However, if the issue is complex, do not leave a lengthy voice mail explaining the issue (out of consideration for the recipient).
- If you know you will be in meetings or unavailable at certain times, let the person know o avoid voice mail telephone tag.
- If you are in the middle of a complex task that requires an uninterrupted thought process, let voice mail answer the phone. Otherwise, take the call to avoid a pile up of messages to return later.
- Phone messages should be responded to within 24 hours. If you have been too tied up to answer a question or inquiry, at least respond to the person who called to let them know that, and then give them an expected date by which you will have the answer for them. This way you still seem responsive, even if you cannot address their request immediately.
- When calling a meeting, always draft an agenda and attach it to the meeting invitation. The agenda will serve multiple purposes:
- Help attendees prepare for the meeting
- Provide a sense of time allocated to each subject, so attendees can be mindful of intended time allotments
- Focus attention on the key issues to discuss (in case the meeting agenda gets sidetracked)
- Demonstrate to others that you value their time & intend to make the meeting productive
This work equally well for small or large meetings, but becomes even more essential to productivity with a large meeting
- Help attendees prepare for the meeting
- After the meeting, it is helpful to prepare 'meeting minutes'. The minutes provide a summary of the key points discussed, and the associated outcomes and action items. They serve as a helpful recap for the attendees, as well as others who could not attend, but who have an interest in the subject matter. A track record of accurate meeting minutes also helps to keep meeting size to a manageable volume, as all of the affected parties will feel less of a need to attend the meeting in order to understand its' directional outcomes.
- The day before the meeting, make sure to arrange for copying of any required handouts.
- If co-workers are always dropping by for impromptu meetings, don't hesitate to create a 'Do Not Disturb' time to be used for those complex thinking projects, where being interrupted has a big impact on your train of thought.
As The Organizing Wiz, Ilene Drexler works with residential clients who want to get organized in their home or offices. As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), as well as the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD), Ilene is a part of the industry's leading resources for professional organizing. Ilene has honed her organizing skills during 20 years working in corporate operations management, where her work was focused on redesigning & streamlining processes, as well as project management.
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