Do you have trouble managing a home office? Add the kids and their activities, along with your busy schedule, and the managing with efficiency gets more difficult. Things get left undone, and the piles of paperwork, mail, magazines, kids’ artwork, not to mention all the stuff totally unrelated that finds a place on your desk you haven’t taken time to put away.
Whether you work from home or your home office is a place where you pay the bills, read the mail and file paperwork, you should be able to actually work from your desk. Your desk should not be a landing pad for everything that can be put away later. Stop procrastinating and make the decisions necessary to keep your desk looking good and a place where you can actually work. Of course, tips such as the ones listed below could relate to any area of your home that collects clutter.
You know what you have to do, but without scheduling time and a concentrated effort, the job will not get done. So take a look at what piles up on your desk. Is it just mail and magazines that are piling up? Or are there CDs, books, kids’ artwork, tools that need to be put away, office supplies, and other trinkets?
Have a family meeting to discuss what needs to go and what needs to stay. Whatever is on your desk that should not be there, create a ‘home’ for each type of item that would be best kept elsewhere so they don’t land back on your desk. You simply have to take the time to decide what you need to do with the problem area, what is your vision for the area, create a plan of action, clean and organize, and then maintain it.
Click here to see an example of how to organize kid’s artwork in this video by Sherry Borsheim of Simply Productive in which she describes how artwork and awards can be filed in a file tote bin, from preschool through grade 12. Sherry says, ‘By the time they graduate, you will have created an organized, preserved, collection of your kids artwork.’
How will you all work together to maintain the space? Once you have a ‘home’ for everything, and everything in its place, everyone needs to continue to do what you’ve agreed to so the area doesn’t get cluttered again. A simple reminder, ‘Whoa, that doesn’t go there! It has a home!’, will keep everyone on task, and you’ll be creating good habits that benefit everyone. Then have everyone take a few minutes a day or once a week, to work together to clear any clutter, rethink something that isn’t working as well as you thought and reorganize for more efficiency. It will be so much easier, take less time, and you’ll have more time to spend together doing the fun stuff with less stress!
Do you feel like you are the only person that has clutter and don’t have any idea what to do about it? Well, you’re not alone!
If you Google-search ‘statistics on clutter’, you’ll see there are enough stats to fill up this page, but here are a few to note:
With statistics like these, obviously you are not alone. Also obvious is the negative impact that clutter has in our lives. Knowing that productivity, budget, time and health are all affected, it is still overwhelming to think about how to declutter your world. So how do we fight the war against clutter?
Vision for end result: You may only have one room that collects clutter. You know, the proverbial ‘junk room’. Or clutter may be only on your desk or in every room. Whatever your individual situation, you need a vision as to what you want. Some experts suggest taking photos of every room in your home to see a different perspective. It may be there are items cluttering a space that you are overlooking everyday. While you’re thinking about it, also think about why you want it. Sometimes it is not enough to see and feel the pain point in your life in order to do something about it, but when you can have a vision for how it could be better and why or how it would make you feel if it were better, then you will have a better chance of getting started with the determination to get it done.
Prioritize: Don’t feel like you have to clear all the clutter in one day! Remember, the clutter in your life and the habits that got it that way didn’t happen overnight. Make a list of each room or area in the order in which you want to get organized. Decide what area is stressing you the most, and start there. Then schedule time on your calendar, allotting the amount of time you want to spend for each room. Some areas, like the garage, might take more than a couple of hours in one day, so schedule a couple of hours in two different days. It might even be helpful to create a plan of action for an area that is too overwhelming – making a list of what items you want to organize first, then second, etc., in an area so that it won’t seem quite so overwhelming.
Goal/project management & schedule: Set your goal and schedule your time. How many times have you thought, ‘I really need to clean out the garage, but it will take so long, and I have to do this and that, before I tackle that huge job’, and it just never gets done? It may help you to break down a big project into individual steps. For example, schedule an hour to sort through and organize the sports equipment on one day, then on another day, take an hour to sort through and organize the tools. You probably set goals for your business life all the time. It’s the same concept with things you need to do to get organized. Creating new habits and a new perspective need reminders to stay on course. So really, actually put the different project times on your calendar just like any other event in your life.
Willpower for action: Once you have your projects scheduled, make a commitment to yourself that you will stick to it until your vision comes to fruition. You may need help along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may need to reschedule a project, because life happens, but make sure to reschedule it on your calendar.
There are all those paper files, mail to go through, magazines, books, training binders, DVDs and video games to straighten up. When you remember that book you wanted to read while on vacation, it takes more time than it’s worth to find it! There are seasonal clothes to move to and from storage, if you can remember which bin in the basement that you’ve put them. You also have that treasured collection, some to showcase and some to store for safekeeping. And of course, the garage!
The good news is that you no longer have to procrastinate. By implementing Paper Tiger Online filing system software, you can now clear the clutter and feel confident to put things in their own place. Paper Tiger enables you to index physical items, and makes it easy to keep track of things. It will be so worth the time invested to clear clutter and get organized, because you won’t be wasting time searching for needed items. You’ll be able to find them again when you need them…in a matter of seconds with a quick search in the database.
If you had a folder for your car repairs and needed to refer to it, could you be certain you could find it when you needed it? Would you remember if you titled it car, auto, Honda or repairs? Did you actually get it filed or is it in that huge stack ‘to be filed’?
By implementing Paper Tiger filing system, you can type in all of those keywords and be able to find anything with a quick search in the database. The traditional alphabetical system has obviously worked, as long as you could recall the name you filed it under previously, that is – so maybe not as efficient as it could be. Using Paper Tiger Online filing system software takes all the confusion out of the equation, even if more than one person is using the system.
Paper Tiger can be used for paper files, but also for many other physical items. Anything that you can put a number onto, you can index with your filing system software. This is especially important for items that may be kept in more than one location. So, for example, if you are going to keep some collectible items on display and want to store some in your basement and others at a rented storage unit, this helps you recall which items ended up where. Each box would have an item number in your Paper Tiger database, and the contents of the box should be typed into the keywords section. All those items you keep cluttered in your home because you’re afraid if you put them away, you won’t remember where you put them, can now be stored somewhere else. When you need to retrieve an item, search your Paper Tiger database, and you’ll know where it is and what box number in seconds.
Go ahead, get started with the steps outlined above to clear the clutter. Before you know it, you’ll feel more organized and accomplished, and less stressed. You can live organized with peace of mind because you have a place for everything, you know where everything is, as well as where it goes when you need to put it back in its place. Clearing clutter will free up so much space and you can have your home and office back!
Have you lost the ability to be creative? Are you tired of losing important records? Is a growing list of demands getting the better of you, or those around you? Are you ready for a change and want to break the cycle? You are not alone in your challenge to keep clutter and overwhelm from draining you of time and energy.
If you are seeking some calm in your life and work, have piles of paper that need to be organized effectively, or even if you have some big projects you want help getting launched, professional organizing and productivity experts can help. You can have an effective work space and home you love.
The experts we know often say there is a direct correlation between stress and clutter. Recognizing that clutter is significant in the way you feel about your home and office can be a great start to your feeling less stressed and overwhelmed. Psychology Today has a great article you might find helpful, “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies”.
In WebMD’s article, “Clutter Control: Is Too Much ‘Stuff’ Draining You?”, it states, ‘Professional organizers who are called to cluttered homes and offices say their clients use the same words, over and over, to describe their reaction to the mess: their energy is drained, they can’t find things, and it’s beginning to interfere with crucial parts of life — such as getting to work on time or navigating staircases.
‘They become overwhelmed, nonfunctional and nonproductive…’, says Lynne Gilberg, a professional organizer in West Los Angeles, CA.
The key is to start small: Tackle one room or even one bookshelf at a time. Cleaning the clutter from drawers? “Don’t dump the whole drawer,” says Gilberg, “it’s too overwhelming.” Instead, take out items that can be thrown away, then things you can donate.’
Clutter happens because you’re not making decisions when you need to. You’re putting off or procrastinating because you don’t want to deal with it. If you really want to have less clutter, make the necessary decisions. Decide to decide what needs focus, what can go, what should be kept. Take one room at a time or one section of a room.
Don’t de-clutter alone. Get your family involved. Chances are, it is the family habits that need to be rethought. It’s most likely not just one person that causes all of the clutter.
When you’ve cleared the clutter, you’ll need to switch to maintenance mode to ensure the pile up doesn’t happen again. When there is a place for everything and everything in its place, then it will be easier to maintain.
If you have clutter because you think you need a visual reminder…if you put it away, you’ll forget about it or where you put it, then Paper Tiger can help. You can index anything in Paper Tiger that you can put a number onto. See our article Work SMART! Getting Organized Doesn’t Have to be Hard! for helpful steps to sort, make decisions, file papers, and index other things you can organize and put away, so that not only is clutter no longer a problem, but finding things you put away is no longer a problem.
You, your family, and your staff, can work less, earn more and be more productive. Get started today with just one area. If you need help, ask one of the productivity experts that can also help you implement Paper Tiger so you can clear clutter, and be able to find things quickly.
It can be overwhelming just thinking about what you have to do and the decisions you have to make to get organized. You might be tempted to give up before you start – but don’t! Whether you’re organizing your desk drawers, filing cabinets, a stack of paper files, a closet, attic, or the garage, Paper Tiger Filing System software will help you get organized! You can have a system in place so you can maintain organization, and be able to live and work in an more productive environment.
You may be asking yourself, why do I want to add another ‘system’ to my chaos. Will this really help me get organized? Think about it this way. You are already wasting a lot of time searching for things, whether it be a file under a name you don’t remember what you filed it under, or maybe you’re looking for something that you’ve boxed up in the attic, but you don’t know which box?
You also may dread the thought of having to make decisions about what to throw away or what to keep. Remember the Pareto Principle, you know the 80/20 rule … we only use 20% of what we have, and the other 80% are back-ups, mistakes, things we have held on to because we haven’t made good decisions about what to do with them. If you don’t try to figure out a system that will help you get organized so you can find what you need when you need it, you may come to realize that you’re only using 20% of what you can find!
Sort: Whatever you’re organizing, you will need to sort through the clutter. Put similar or like things together.
Think about the similar items you have scattered throughout your home or office, and make a home for those like items to get them together. For example, do you have appliance manuals and warranties scattered, but cannot find the one you need? Depending on the volume of these similar things, designate a drawer, a hanging box file folder, or a box for these. Note that you don’t have to go searching for these items now. This could waste a lot of unnecessary time, however you will at least have a home for these items and will know where they go when you organize and sort through another part of your home or office and come across them at that time.
Make good decisions now! You’ll need to ask yourself some questions about your paper files and other stuff. Set yourself up for a maintenance plan that can be continued.
When using Paper Tiger, you have the decision as to how you want to differentiate your types of files by creating what we call ‘Locations’ in the database. A Location is a group of like items, and could relate to where you will store your physical items or could relate to the types of physical items that you plan to index (paper files, books, CDs, DVDs, storage boxes, etc.) Your Locations can be named anything you want – however you relate to what you are indexing, i.e., Office files, Home files, Action files, Reference files, House, Basement, Garage, etc. Paper Tiger uses Locations to represent these places where you store the items you want to be able to find later. For example, your Reference files Location might contain an index of all files in your 5 file cabinets of 4 drawers each, and Item #1 in Paper Tiger starts with the documents in the first hanging file folder in file cabinet 1, and end with Item #500 in with all documents indexed from the last hanging file folder in file cabinet 5. Or you could differentiate your paper files even further with additional Locations such as Clients, Financial, Administrative, Research, etc.
You decide what is best for the way you wish to file. Remember, Paper Tiger is not just a filing system, it’s a ‘finding system’, so as long as you put in a few keywords for each hanging file folder, you will be able to find anything you need…and when you need it without time-wasting searches. A simple search in the database for whatever keyword you’re thinking of that day, will help you find the file quickly.
Paper Tiger experts recommend starting with Locations named ‘Action’ and ‘Reference’. Later you can create an ‘Archives’ Location for those files that you can’t part with for legal or tax reasons, but need to be moved from your general file area. These items can be transferred from one Location to another in your Paper Tiger database so you can still find them if you ever need them.
Action: For things that need action by you, either do it now or place a note on it that outlines what action needs to be taken and by what deadline. (See Paper Tiger Action Files)
Reference: Paper files that you need to keep for reference occasionally, but do not require action, can be indexed into your Reference file location. (See examples of Reference Files)
Toss/shred: If you don’t need a piece of paper, then throw it away or shred it! If you don’t need that old bike anymore, give it away to someone you know or maybe a non-profit agency such as http://www.bearingsbikeshop.org/. If you can’t wear or haven’t worn some of your clothes or shoes in a year, then give them away to someone you know or maybe to Goodwill.
Other Physical Items (not paper files)
For other physical items, (such as books, CDs, DVDs, boxes/containers, etc.), decide if the items need a location in Paper Tiger or if you can index keywords for the items in with other things. See other Location suggestions described on our Not Just For Filing Paper page. Basically, anything that you can put a number onto, can be indexed into Paper Tiger. For example, for CDs or DVDs, you can either place a numbered label that matches the item number in Paper Tiger, on the CD/DVD jacket or you can place the CD/DVD in a binder such as the one pictured below, index the name, author, and other pertinent information into the item’s keywords section in Paper Tiger. As you can see, the item number was written with permanent marker on the DVD and on the DVD binder slot. So the DVD numbered 45, would match what was indexed in Paper Tiger’s item number 45 for the DVD Location (DVD 45).
Other Locations might be for information only (unless you keep related papers in your Reference files), such as:
To create your custom Location labels or more Action or Reference labels, Paper Tiger makes it easy. In case you’re wondering, there is no limit to the number of locations you can have! Click here to see even more ways to use Paper Tiger to get organized.
Paper Tiger Filing System software combined with a proven methodology, enables users to get organized and manage paper and other physical items more effectively.