Peace of Mind through Order and Systems


Start organizing your workspace by gaining control of the space immediately in front of you when you sit at your desk:

* Only the documents presently in use should be on your desk. All other documents should be in a file where they can be retrieved easily when you are ready to work on them. Reserve the file space in your desk for active files that are used frequently. Less-frequently-used files should go in the main filing cabinet. Only items which are used constantly and a few decorations belong on your desk. The more clear your desk is, the better.

* Create a file folder for every project you are working on so that documents can be easily found. Store current project files in the drawer closest to you.

* To prevent forgetting tasks when the file is put away, list the task the document represents in your daily organizer. Tasks won't really get done any sooner because documents are sitting out but they do become a source of pressure, distraction and distress.

* Put any supplies which you do not use constantly either farther away from you on the surface or in a designated desk drawer. Any files or supplies which are not used frequently should be removed from the immediate work area so that space for work is freed up

* After the desktop is clear, organize the file drawers closest to you, those that you will use most. Have a separate file, or more probably, a separate file section, for every area of responsibility covered in your job description, for every project under your jurisdiction (or perhaps even, in which you are involved). The major areas of your work indicate what the major areas for files should be.

* Your documents will show you how the system needs to be organized. First decide what area a document belongs in (you might need to create another area). Look at that area to see if there already is a file on this topic. Don't try to stretch your definition to make it include something which could more logically be put elsewhere or given its own heading. Never try to save money by economizing on file folders; such false economies waste time and energy that could be better spent on meaningful activity.

* The organization of your file system will be easier to manage if it corresponds to the organization of directories on your computer. Make each major category in your filing system a directory on the computer and keep documents in corresponding files. Put the name and path of the computer file on every document you create and put the name of the file that it belongs to in on each document.

* Don't try to economize on file folders by having fewer categories and lumping things together - finding documents is made easier by creating more differentiation. Hanging and manila files are cheap - the time wasted by not using as many as it takes to be able to find things easily will cost far more than a few extra file folders.

* There are some files that should never exist: MISCELLANEOUS, GENERAL, STUFF, LATER because they provide no real information or categorization.

* Put some thought into the best title for files. Simplicity is important. Use the title that is the word or phrase that will come to mind first when you want to retrieve the document.

* Leave three to four inches of unfilled space in every file drawer so that it will be easy to work with the files.

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