Happy 2022! The start of a new year is the time where we get to hit the restart button on our work/life balance. Not just a resolution but offering a new start with a clean slate!

The last two years have taught us many things including that the systems that help us stay organized and productive, regardless of where our actual workspace is, are critical. Some of  us began to go back to our office buildings, some of us are continuing to work remotely, and some of us have decided the time is right to branch out on our own. Wherever you are at this time of your life, this is the perfect time of year to review what is working and what isn’t working for you regarding your organizing systems.

Barbara Hemphill, founder of Productive Environment Institute is famous for saying, “Clutter is postponed decisions®” and if you need evidence of this look at your desk right now.

The easiest system to create is the area where you spend your time working. We tend to pile papers all over our work surface and then we waste hours of our time searching for a specific piece of paper. One of the reasons we do this is that we often do not know how to make a decision regarding what we should do with all of the paper that comes into our office (note: this is applicable for email and digital files as well.)

Our Sorted Out productivity specialists will work with you to teach you a 6-element system for organizing your office called The Magic 6™. This is a basic formula that you can adapt to your individual needs and preferences:

1. In/Out/File: Place three containers on your desk within reach of your chair:

One for the items you have not yet reviewed

One for items you need to take someplace else – another person’s office, the post office

One for items you need to file in a location you can’t reach from your chair

2. Wastebasket/Recycle/Shred:

Make it easy to get rid of what you don’t need. For example, if you have a shredder, but you can’t reach it from your chair, use a desk drawer, or a small box under your desk. Then develop a system for actually getting the paper shredded – whether you do it yourself or hire your child to do it!

3. Calendar:

One of the biggest contributors to a messy desk is papers that serve as reminders to do something. While most of us are great at making and keeping appointments with other people, we’re not so good at making and keeping appointments with ourselves.

4. Contact Management System: 

Another big source of office clutter is papers (and electronic files!) with contact information – names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mails, etc. Many of us are using our phones as a contact management system.

5. Action Files: 

These files should be located close to your desk.  They contain the papers you need to work on your current projects.  They can be sorted in three different ways:

  • By date (files labeled 1-31 for the current month, and Jan – Dec)
  • By type of action (e.g., “Data Entry” “Expense Reimbursement,” “Waiting for Response”)
  • By name of project, client, or event.

5. Reference Files: 

These files contain all the papers you may not need on a daily basis, but you don’t want to throw them away!  They can be located in or outside your office.  Your “To File” box will serve as a place to hold the papers that need to be filed.

So, here’s your challenge: Set aside four hours. Clear your desk by putting everything on it in a box. Set up The Magic 6™ to stop future clutter and use the system to manage every new piece of paper coming into your office.

Before you can begin to create your own systems, it is a good idea to assess how organized you are right now.  We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t track what you don’t measure.”  Click here to take our Sorted Out Productive Environment Scorecard.

When you’re ready to start the organizing process, give us a call. We would be honored to help & look forward to hearing from you!

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When you’re ready to start the organizing process, give us a call. We would be honored to help & look forward to hearing from you!