We all try to be organized, but a lot of us end up wasting time and money because we can't keep our offices straight and clutter free. We asked small business owners and professional organizers to share their advice for how to organize an office for maximum efficiency.
Machines & Devices
These machines and devices enhance office organization by cutting clutter, saving space and improving efficiency:
- Smartphone: "It organizes my whole office on the go," says Angela Hadl, owner and marketing consultant, Dive Mktg in New York. "With all my files being in the cloud, I'm able to access documents on the go."
- Scanner: "My must-have product for not getting buried in papers is a sheet-fed mobile document scanner," says Irina Jordan, founder of ARTISURN, maker of urns, jewelry and keepsakes in Oswego, IL. "It can scan in color and grayscale with speed. Plus it creates PDFs." For even more space saving, consider an all-in-one printer. These machines are true workhorses, handling printing, copying and scanning in one device and saving tons of space on your desk or side table.
- Shredder: An absolute must for safely discarding confidential information, legal documents and more.
Office Organization Products
These tried-and-true office organization products always prove their worth:
- File Cabinets & Hanging Files: "I like hanging files because they retain their shape and can easily be labeled and color coded," says professional organizer Kim Oser of Need Another You in Washington, DC. "And it's easy to access their contents."
- Plastic Boxes: Keep closets and storage cabinets neat by sorting and storing items in containers. Clear ones make it easier to identify what's inside.
- Label Makers: "Don't just think labels are for folders or the spines of binders," says Melissa Schmalenberger, a professional organizer in Fargo, ND. "Try putting them on shelves or on the outside of filing cabinets to show where items or projects are."
- Desk Organizers: Corral your papers in one place until you can file, shred or recycle. It's an easy way to create an appearance of being organized.
- Whiteboards: "They're great for brainstorming and organizing your thoughts," says Jon Payne, vice president of marketing services with Straight North in Charlotte, NC. "If you have several, you can use them for information you need to reference quickly, like client lists and sales prospects."
- Notebooks & Binders: Big or small, old school or new and improved, these products keep all your papers in one place. Consider a separate book for every project or client.
- Magazine Files: "They're inexpensive, hold a lot and look nice on a shelf," explains Annmarie Seldon, founder of AMS Communications in Boston. "They keep my notebooks and periodicals organized, and they hide a lot, too!"
- Photo Storage Sleeves: "We use them to store all sorts of things: rulers, batteries, tape, cables, pens, headphones, paper clips, thumbtacks, important information on sheets of paper and just about everything else you could imagine," says Ryan Wallace, president of iPhoneAntidote in San Francisco.
There are also plenty of business apps to help you get and stay organized. Here are a few types of apps with suggestions to consider:
- Password Minder Apps: Try LockBox or eWallet to safely catalog and store all your passwords on a mobile device.
- Business Card Apps: "Eliminate stacks of business cards with the Camcard or Cardmunch apps," suggests Donna David, a New York-based professional organizer. "Snap a picture of the business card and they save the data in your contacts."
- Productivity & Collaboration Apps: Tools like Evernote and Google Drive make it easy to create and store documents and images in the cloud, and create a central repository for files accessed by a project team or remote employees.
So stop procrastinating and start organizing! Use any of these office organization products and ideas to make your office and yourself more productive.