We tried to get away with sharing three common organizing mistakes and then we realized… three??? There are probably about 300! And when we thought about it like that, we realized we’d better mention a few more just in case you’re sitting there staring at mounds of paperwork on your desk today or agonizing over a misplaced phone number, or perhaps knocking back your fifth cup of coffee as you brace to tackle your to-do list (you know the one, it’s been staring at you all week!)
Today we’re going to share a few more common mistakes that eager organizers (and even the less-than-eager ones) can make, but more importantly we’re going to help you overcome them so that when the end of the week rolls around you’ll be ready to hang up your hat and take a few days off in peaceful mental serenity.
Mistake 1: Putting the container before the horse
This is one for the eager organizers. Maybe you’ve started a new job, moved into a new workspace or turned over a new leaf and you’re ready to tackle it head on. What do you do first? Run out and buy yourself a bunch of trays, cubes, containers and boxes of course! Hopefully we’ve headed you off because this is one mistake it can be costly and time-consuming to ignore. If you start with the buy-now-and-repent-later approach you may find yourself with a lot of containers and bins that don’t really work. They may not effectively store the things you need organized. They may be too bulky to fit into your space. They may not even look very nice in your clean and bright new office.
Before you know it, your organizing products are just more clutter in your space and instead of getting your work materials organized, you’re wasting time trying to organize the containers. Here’s how to keep your organizing solutions from becoming part of the problem: STOP!
Don’t buy a single box, tray or drawer until you know what it is you need to organize. Take inventory of the materials you have and decide what types of storage solutions you’ll need. For document hoarders, think about setting up a good filing solution. For gadget collectors, consider drawers that will not only keep your things neat and accessible but free of the dust that can quickly collect on items left on a desktop for too long. Decide what items you’ll need immediate and frequent access to so that you can find a solution that keeps them within arm’s reach – without cluttering up valuable desk space.
Whatever solution you choose, make it one that will fit your needs. And if you’ve already run out to the nearest office supply store and snatched up everything on the shelf? Check your receipt and return whatever you can! Keep only those things that fit with your style, décor and storage requirements. Otherwise, donate and recycle what you don’t need because you’ll waste a lot more time and money struggling with not-quite-right solutions than if you reinvest in something truly useful.
Mistake 2: Taking a cookie cutter approach
Here are a couple of revelations for you… are you ready? There is no magic solution that will let you drop three dress sizes in three days. You won’t get rich by forwarding that last super-secret-special email your coworker sent you. And there is no one-size-fits-all miraculous organizing solution that will turn you into an instant production machine.
We can give you tips, tricks and suggestions but the reality is that you are the only person like you and your organizing needs are unique to your situation. Sure, there are best practices and really good ideas you can use, but don’t be fooled into thinking there’s one simple, out-of-the-box solution that will work for everyone.
The resolution for this one is much the same as it was for the last – take stock of what you need to organize, measure out the space you have to do it in, decide on your decorating style (no reason you can’t be organized AND stylish!) and then find solutions that fit your needs or can be customized to work the way you do.
Mistake 3: Bungling the labels
Labels can be your best friend or your biggest frustration. Done correctly, they can help you easily scan for and locate things you need. But do them poorly and you’ll find yourself wasting time trying to squint your way through crammed cabinets and tiny handwritten scrawl. The day it becomes easier to sift through your file folders in search of a document than to read and understand the labels on them is the day you need to stop and reconsider your filing methods.
Most filing solutions offer you a tiny plastic tab with a paper insert to write on. You know what we’re talking about. Next thing you know you’re scribbling names, dates and titles in the hopes that you’ll recognize them again one day. Adding insult to injury, you stuff them haphazardly into file cabinets so tightly that you barely have enough space between labels to read them.
For starters, you should be printing your labels instead of hand-writing them. Find a solution that lets you run the labels through your printer so they’ll be legible when you’re done. Next, try color coding your folders so that you can determine a document’s general vicinity even without reading the labels. Finally, leave enough space so you’re not in a constant battle with the sixteenth-of-an-inch space you’ve got left to work with. Filing is an art unto itself and a good topic for another blog post but for now, if you start with clean, clear labels and a bit of color coding, you’ve got a good head start.
Getting organized is sometimes all about the little details that you only notice after you’ve bought a box, set up a drawer or filed a folder and realized it’s just not working. Hopefully these tips will put you on the right path and help you think a little more carefully about how to craft a solution that works for you, and not the other way around!
What organizing dilemma, irritation or nuisance did you run into today? Tell us so we can help you figure out what to do about it!
For more information or to buy these products:
About Ultimate Office
Ultimate Office provides innovative organization and storage solutions for your business and home office. Our passion is for taking the ordinary and making it not just extraordinary, but Ultimate.