I took a lot of Microsoft and Adobe classes from a great company in Calgary, and at the time I chuckled when I took this photo of one of their filing cabinet drawers. But then it dawned on me – this isn’t out of the ordinary at all. This is quite common. A deal-with-it-later non-strategy is pretty much the worst organizational strategy ever.
Labelling a drawer “more random papers” is tantamount to just shredding them; it serves no purpose. Information is only good when you can find it when you need it. Just like tools in your kitchen or your garage – there is no point in having a whisk or a cordless drill if you can’t find them when you need them.
Enter stage left – the Organizational Professional.
I work with you, at home or in the office (or with the entire office!) to sort & purge, organize & store everything you need to be effective & efficient. Yes, it can get messy. Yes, it will most likely be slightly overwhelming at first. And yes, it will be mind numbingly boring at times. The light at the end of the tunnel is worth the pain in the patootie. It’s worth letting go of things you had acquired just in case. It’s worth the investment in having someone there to sit with you in a pile of papers saying “shred or keep?” over and over.
Here’s the process, broken down into simple steps, and they’ll work in an office setting, on a file server, or in a home situation like your kitchen or your closet.
- We remove the clutter and try to pile it in like-with-like groups, as best we can.
- If you’ve not heard of the term like-with-like before, imaging putting all writing instruments in your office in one drawer, but separating the pencils from the pens, and the Sharpies from the Dry Erase markers. Like-with-like.
- We clean up the space and figure out if the flow is working for you or not. If not, we look at how to alter the flow.
- We put the essentials back in place first, close to where they’re used. Just the essentials, what you use all day, everyday.
- We add in the next group of items – what you use daily.
- We add in the next group of items – what you use weekly.
- We add in the next group of items – what you use monthly.
- We burn the rest. Hahahahahaaaa…..just checking to see if you’re still reading this. Of course we don’t burn the rest.
- We reassess the space and how it feels to work/be there.
At this point we have to take a long, hard look at what is remaining and why it’s there. This is usually where the hard work comes in. We have to make decisions about this stuff! Do you need it, or just want it? Does it enhance your job/life or just stress you out? Will you get in trouble if we do decide to burn it? And if you can’t live without it or your company has a retention schedule for files, we need to figure out where it will all live and a way to keep it from creeping back into your space.
There are multitudes of books on this tricky subject of organizing, but that’s really it. It’s the evaluation of each and every piece of paper or article of clothing and making a decision that’s the big energy drain, which is why I only work with people in two hour blocks.
We start with gathering up the tools to do the sorting, and hash out a rough plan of attack in the first half hour. Then an hour of intense sorting and evaluating which can fly by pretty quickly. Then I find everyone starts to get a glazed over look after about 1.5 hours and we take a bit of time to wrap up and clean up a bit and come up with homework or our next steps in the last half hour. If I’ve helped you at your home, I take care of removing the items from your home, as long as they fit in my cross-over vehicle. If I’ve helped you at your business, I can make the arrangements to have a shredder come by or whatever is needed to free up your time to get you back to work.
You work hard. You deserve to have a calm space to work/live in.
Call me to set up a time for your free one hour evaluation of your space in the Nanaimo area, or talk about setting up a meeting when I’m next in Calgary. I’d be happy to help you create more efficiency in your life.
Here’s an article from Houzz about what to do before you store items in your home. A good read!