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60 seconds to declutter and organize the office

January 13, 2008|By BOB POOR

Q&A: Ask SCORE

Q: I am a victim of office clutter. However, I am about to move to a new office and have a chance to do it "right" this time. How can I best organize my small business, eliminate the clutter and keep it simple?

A: OK, in just 60 seconds you will learn how to organize your office:

· 0:60 - Create a clutter-free desktop. Throw away items you don't use, such as pens that don't write, old computer disks, scrap paper, etc. Keep only items you regularly use on your desktop.

Next, consolidate your office equipment by purchasing multi-function equipment such as an all-in-one printer scanner, copier and fax machine. Use letter trays and file sorters to avoid piles. Clear out y our drawers. Designate a purpose for each drawer, such as supplies and personal items.

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· 0:46 - Generate storage space where none exists. Space can be added through shelving, cabinet installation, drawers, storage units, bookcases and file cabinets. Storage units and plastic containers are great for storing products you sell as well as for holding large supplies.

· 0:38 - Manage your mail. Deal with incoming mail immediately. Sort mail as it arrives. Throw away junk mail, forward mail to the appropriate people. Open and separate the rest and file it. Categories for filed mail may include "bills," "respond right away," "not urgent," etc. Use electronic mailbox folders to organize e-mail.

· 0:20 - Maintain an efficient filing system. Files you do not regularly use are best stored in file boxes. Organize your files by color-coding, alphabetically or by file type. Consider having separate file drawers for different areas of business such as clients, finances and media.

· 0:11 - Maintain an organized computer. Using helpful software, clearly naming files, saving files to appropriate folders and creating shortcuts on your desktop can help.

· 0:03 - Keep track of time. Have a daily plan and stick to it. Schedule your time on a planner, calendar, appointment book, a hand-held device or computer program. Leave detailed voice and e-mail messages, stating exactly what you need so a person will be prepared with the info when they call or e-mail you back.

The Hagerstown Chapter of SCORE offers business counseling for start-ups and established businesses. Call 301-739-2015, ext. 103, or go to www.scorehagerstown.org.

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