I am quite possibly the world’s best procrastinator when it comes to filing. My in-tray quickly becomes an in-desk and that’s in a world where so much is electronic. As for my digital filing, well let’s just say that I have learned the hard way that if I don’t practice some discipline, I pay… in time, frustration or having to repeat work.
Getting organized at work is all about common sense and good habits. If, like me, you are not disciplined enough to do filing and cleaning up on a daily basis, at least diarise to do it weekly or bi-weekly.
The Six D’s of getting Organised:
- Do it
- Delegate it
- Diarise it
- Dossier it
- Drop it
- De-clutter – A messy workspace may be the sign of a genius but it is a source of mental stress, a huge time-waster and leads to wasteful expenditure (how many times have you replaced the office stapler because it has disappeared into a black hole?). Whether it is your digital desktop or the real thing, clean it up and make a place for everything and yes… put everything in its place. Things and documents get lost in messy environments. Also, tidying up the workplace, in general, has an impact on safety and health; objects left lying around are potential hazards and messy spaces often become dirty spaces.
- Do it – If something is urgent and important then doing it there and then is usually helpful! ‘Actioning’ can range from responding to an email to completing a client proposal but just by getting started, you have already made progress. Of course, knowing if something is both important and urgent requires that a minimum of planning is in place, even if it’s just a to-do list. ‘Doing it’ applies to clean and file, as much as any other task.
- Delegate it – If you have capable employees to whom you can delegate a task then do so. This develops their work scope and frees you up to make a dent in your own workload. Remember delegation still requires some input and oversight.
- Diarise it – If the task cannot be delegated but it is not yet urgent then diarise it. Whether you are an Outlook planner or you still use a diary and a pen, any system will work, as long as you refer to it and do what you planned to do. A good dose of realism is required to plan a diary effectively. Be generous with your time allocation to specific tasks and plan for interruptions.
- Dossier it – Ok, yes, filing is a better word but I needed a ‘D’! the filing is a boring chore but a simple filing system that makes sense to you and your employees is essential. There are legal and compliance considerations when it comes to the storage and access of documents, as well as the logic of being able to access information quickly and easily. Filing basics require that each folder is correctly labeled and filed under logical categories in date or alphabetical order. File naming conventions and version control are vital when electronic documents are shared and stored.
- Drop it – If the task is neither important nor urgent, press delete or bin it. This is what we procrastinators find the hardest to do. “I may need that article or I will get to that when I have a moment.” You will not. One of the most liberating things a busy person can do is to unsubscribe. It feels very worthy to belong to “We are clever business people” society or forum but unless you actually read the articles or take part in the discussions, it is just another thing to fill up your inbox (real or digital). In addition, the Protection of Personal Information Act and other legislation regulate the storage and manner of disposal of documentation. A document disposal schedule relies on an effective filing system.
When it comes to getting organized, a simple system is usually more effective than fancy I.T. has driven approaches, but whatever you implement, it is only as good as your adherence to it.
Key take-out: Be disciplined about applying the Five D’s of the organization to reap the benefits of reduced costs, reduced stress and greater efficiency.
Author: Janet Askew
Janet is a trainer, coach, speaker and writer who is passionate about promoting women in business and SMME development. In addition to her consulting work, she is a director of Essentially Natural and serves on the board of the Wot-If? Trust.