Handle It Once Policy

by Vikki Nelson

These are the very words I tell myself every time I think about saving something. You know the kind of people we are - Ill look for it later when I have more time, or This is very interesting, Ill just put it over here til later... or I need to save this for posterity!

Well, later is now. I have started spring cleaning, a little late, but at least Im making the royal effort to handle it a SECOND time and then ultimately throw it away. You know that other saying, If you dont use it in a year, throw it away!

It is a major achievement and self-rewarding when you straighten up your work area, whether at your office or at home, to the point that you can actually see your desk or your family room. Or are you the type of person who cant start working until everything is neat as a pin?

The truth is that more people are in the first category. A recent survey that I ran across showed that only 40% of women and 26% of men considered themselves highly organized. Thats pretty unfortunate, because this survey also shows that an orderly environment promotes greater productivity, efficiency and accuracy. Im still learning. Not only that, disorderly work environments can have a detrimental effect on your bottom line. Clutter may cost you business or compromise the prices you can charge if this clutter exists in your business place. Good organization is part of your image. For example, if a client should see a disorganized workplace, they may think less of your whole operation. Here are some hints that may help you and me with our clutter.

* Order promotes focus. The entire process of organizing forces a person to prioritize. While youre organizing your desk, or home, keep a note pad handy so that you can jot down detailed accurate to-do list. Just the act of starting to organize your desk helps highlight what needs to be done now, tomorrow or next week.

* To be able to remove clutter effectively, you need to have ample room for orderly storage and filing - for those things that you intend to save, of course. If you dont have adequate shelving or file cabinets, now is the time to decide to go ahead and buy the equipment that will allow you to be more efficient in the future.

* Take work flow. What is your unique procedure in your office or in your home that fits with your habits and business? Active files containing papers relating to current projects need to be handy, be it in manila folders in a rack or envelopes. This does away with loose papers and gives that project an identified folder.

* While you are organizing is a good time to determine which materials can be destroyed or thrown away. Check with your accountant, be it for business or personal, regarding time limits for storage of various types of items, including bank statements, contracts, leases, employee records, tax records, etc.

* And now that we have computers, we can file so much stuff on floppy disks, but that brings me to another point. I have more paperwork now than I ever did before computers.