By Kate Berardo and Simma Lieberman
Organization plays a strong role both in stress levels and time management. When many people see a messy office or scattered computer file system, they experience a low-grade stress that carries over to many different activities and experiences. When it comes to actually getting work done, a disorganized workspace slows down productivity and can add to frustration.
That’s why we suggest you make 2004 your Year of Organization. While memories of New Year festivities are still fresh in your head, take a few minutes to make the following time-saving and stress-reducing steps in your workplace. Believe us, when the end of the year rolls around and you look back at what you’ve accomplished during the year, you’ll be glad you made these simple changes.
We love technology when it works, and curse it when it fails us. Keep your computer healthy and organized for less stress and more productivity with these steps:
- Protect it. Make sure your Virus Protection Software is up to date (install it now if you don’t have it already). Run a full system scan for viruses at the end of your work day today to check for contaminated files. If you don’t know much about computers, spend 10 minutes familiarizing yourself with your software by going to the Help Section. Should you get infected by a virus or experience other complications, this will help you understand what you will need to do and how to do it.
- Clean it up. Defragment your hard drive to make your computer run faster and run disk clean-up on your computer. If your computer allows it (check the help section) schedule these maintenance tasks to occur regularly.
- Organize it. Take a few minutes to reorganize your files and programs. Start with your desktop. Erase shortcuts that you don’t need, and add shortcuts for some of your favorite programs. Open your documents files and give yourself a half an hour to thoroughly go through and put documents in their proper places. Set up an archive for old files that you don’t access often. Look at your files and their organization. If you create a file system that is logical and easy to follow, you won’t be stuck saving documents to the desktop or to other mystery locations where you have to do a search to recover them.
The Organizer: It’s supposed to keep us organized, but sometimes it serves as a kind reminder of how disorganized we really are. Kick your organizer into shape with these easy steps.
- Assign rank. The first task is to determine what really is your organizer. Is it the address book on Yahoo account, your PDA, or your Outlook files? The downside of the abundance of life-organizing software is that it’s hard to keep track of which one has all the information you need. Look over the features, usability, and content, choose one program, and stick to it.
- Merge. Next comes the daunting task of pulling all your contact information together and keeping it up-to-date. First, learn to import contact information from your other organizers. Again, check the Help section in your software to learn more about this feature (if your organizer doesn’t have this feature, then it’s definitely not the one to nominate as head organizer).
- Fill-In, Delete. Now it’s time to update your content. Many of us put off this essential task and all-too-often have to deal with out of date information and undeliverable email addresses. Take a deep breath, and take a few minutes (hours? days?) to finally turn your organizer into a well-oiled machine. Go through your contacts, delete old email addresses, and fill-in missing information by contacting old contacts and requesting what you need (a good way to potentially ignite an old business relationships, by the way). If you have an assistant of any kind, have them do this for you and feel very, very lucky.
- Always On. Once you have elected a head organizing program and have updated it, keep it open and on your desktop at all times. When you get a change of address email notice, copy and paste that information into the head organizer. When you receive a new business card or contact, enter it into your organizer as soon as possible.
Your Office Space
Spring Clean in January? Ever wonder why we do Spring Cleaning? Some might say we do it to head into the second half of the year fresh and organized. We say it’s because, come Spring, things are so messy for most people, it’s essential. If you start off with a clean office, you can keep your office clean throughout the year and prevent a mid-year hold up.
- Find a place. Visually, it’s important that your office seems clean. Paper, clutter, and other visual mess can make you feel unorganized and stressed. Therefore, put things away and seek out desk space. File papers, put books in a shelf, and take advantage of drawer space.
- Kid in a Container Store. Invest a few dollars in some organizing accessories that will simplify your task of getting organized and will allow you to stay that way.
- Take advantage of Phone Time. Some people pace during conversations, some people clean. That’s right. When you are on the phone in a routine call, straighten up your office as you listen and talk.
Make the initiative to start 2004 organized! Following these steps, you can set up a streamlined workspace that will save headaches, smooth out your work days, and add to your daily productivity.