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Back to Business: Time to Organize Your Office
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By Miri Tringali

After the lazy days of summer, it is time to dust off your desk and get back to business. But what about all of those piles? Does it feel like you’ll never figure out workable systems to quickly and easily find what you’re looking for when you need it?

To help business professionals conquer their clutter, Office Depot partnered with Stephanie Winston, New York Times best-selling author of “Getting Organized,” to develop a program called “The Office Depot Five-Day Office Makeover Plan.” This plan takes business professionals through a five-day workweek and offers them a daily “to-do” task. Think of it as a new, improved fitness regiment for the office. The guide, available at www.officedepot.com/getorganized, also suggests simple ideas to help avoid potential productivity perils and outlines the top recommendations for achieving organizational success.

As Winston notes, "All it takes are a few clear-cut systems and a dose of consistency to tidy your inbox and trim the overgrown files in your office for an immediate impact.”

The five-day guide designed by Winston and Office Depot, provides simple solutions for maintaining an orderly workspace – in just 30 minutes a day. Here is how to get started:

Top Tips from the Five-Day Office Makeover Plan

• The TRAF System – Following Winston’s trademark TRAF system – Toss, Refer, Act and File – will help you better organize your files:

Toss: A natural part of getting organized is tossing unneeded papers. But in today’s environment, where identity theft is prevalent, protecting your information is more important than ever. Stephanie recommends using an Ativa desk-top shredder to ensure that confidential documents, personal papers and financial information do not fall into the wrong hands.

Refer: If the information in the document is more relevant to a colleague, pass it along to them.

Act: Act on the document and make sure to finalize the activity so that it can be checked off the list.

File: If the document might be of use in the future, file it.

• Create a Master To-Do List – Create a centralized, master to-do list each week, from which you can pull 10-12 daily tasks. Carry your list with you at all times in a convenient organizer so that action items can be easily added and crossed off upon completion. We recommend using either a PDA, or a paper-based organizer such as a FranklinCovey organizer.

• Organize Your Files to Increase Productivity – Many people create file names that make sense at the time, but do not come to mind easily when they need to retrieve the folder. To keep this from happening to you, create broad file names versus very specific titles. You will find it infinitely easier to locate what you are looking for if you create a master-hanging folder with a general name that contains manila folders with more detailed names. For example, if “acquisition targets” is the general title, then each manila folder is labeled with the individual company names. It is also a good idea to use the same approach to organize your electronic files, too.

• Keep a Single Calendar – Keep all of your appointments in a single calendar that you can access every day. If you choose to use a virtual calendar, be sure that it can be brought with you on the road. This way, appointments can be added while traveling. When working with a large group, keep track of the team by using one calendar to organize all of their major tasks. Be sure that items on the centralized calendar are also on the calendars of individual team members responsible for the tasks.

• Know Where Your Files Are – When you are planning for an upcoming business trip, think through the documents you will need for scheduled meetings. If you are traveling to several cities in a row, consider shipping files to the different hotels where you will be staying. This way, you can minimize what you carry without being unprepared. However, always have a back-up available on an Ativa thumb drive or CD, in case your materials don’t arrive.

Remember that organizing doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these easy steps and you too can get to the bottom of office clutter and set yourself on a path for a really productive fourth quarter!

Mira Tringali is Office Depot's Divisional Merchandising Manager for Education and Presentation.
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