4 February 2013

What Treasures are Hidden in Your Office Drawers?

‘Have you got some staples?’ someone asks you, waving a dead stapler urgently.

You always have supplies of everything – your reputation as the company hoarder is well known – but just where is the $99 question.

You rummage in your top drawer, embarrassed that they see the pile of junk that has sneaked in. Dead bus tickets fly out and a tatty packet of chewing gum splits apart. Two pairs of broken sunglasses, three combs and a heap of other equally fascinating jumble tap dance under your fingers. At last, with a sigh of relief you find the box of staples you just KNEW were lurking in the depths.

This doesn’t describe you? I bet it describes someone you know! Obvious as it seems, the way we set up our drawers can make a large difference to our productivity. Let’s consider how to use your office drawers to increase effectiveness.

The most common configuration has now become one or two drawers and a file drawer and it works well. If you have the space, five pullouts and one file drawer is ideal. Less or no drawers can be compensated for by alternative mobile and auxiliary storage systems but for the rest of this discussion we’ll assume you have at least the basic layout. (Some unfortunate souls have no drawers at all!).

Put your basic office tools such as paper clips, stapler, paper-punch, ruler, spare staples, rubber bands, eraser and pencil sharpener in the top drawer. Two reasons. They’re less likely to walk(!) and having such items on top of your desk (as many do) crowds your working space and makes you feel cluttered. It takes a fraction of a second to open a drawer (if it’s tidy) and reach for the equipment you need. The spin-off is a lovely feeling of space. I know – I used to have so much gear around the edges of my desk it left only a tiny area in which to work. I constantly wondered why my elbows were always knocking things off the desk! (And if your top drawer sounds like the treasure trove described earlier, de-clutter it. Most of that stuff can go in the rubbish, be taken home or recycled to the stationery cupboard).

Your current activity is probably lurking on top of your desk so you won’t forget it. Problem is – the piles get bigger and bigger and you’re liable to forget things anyway. There are a number of options – let’s look at the two most common ones.

Option One is to house your current work in the hanging file drawer in your desk. If you name it ‘Action – Current’ it keeps the system alphabetical and easy to find for anyone else managing your work when you’re on leave or sick.  Position this file at the front of your file drawer or on the side closest to you, depending on the configuration of your drawer. If you have a number of long term items which don’t need daily focus but you need to keep close at hand, make a second file called ‘Action – Pending’.

Option Two caters to the visual folk, and there are many. They truly know that anything put away in a drawer, no matter how well labelled, will not see the light of day again – at least when they’re looking for it. If this describes you, try using a step file. One of my clients has designed quite the best I’ve ever seen – you’ll see their Quefile (This product flows out of our warehouse by the box load – it’s FABULOUS!) The value is that it’s out in view on the top of your desk or near your desk, it’s easily seen and things placed there can be retrieved in a milli-second. Everything is at your fingertips and you’ve applied one of the key principles of paper management – storing things upright instead of flat.

The exception, obviously, is bulky projects that don’t fit. You’ve got several options.

  1. Place them in their own named files in the file drawer or Quefile. (If they’re bulky and not something you’re working on constantly, they’re better out of the Quefile and placed in either the file drawer or your regular filing cabinet.)
  2. Use an upright periodical box with the sides cut away so you can see the contents (readily available in all stationers).
  3. Place them on a nearby shelf, but NOT on your desk. It’s visual graffiti and a distraction.

Now what’s left?

Most of the rest of your ‘stuff’ can go in a suspension file called the ‘1/2 way to the Rubbish Bin‘ file (and I do tag it with that name!). The future contents of this file are probably sitting on your desk because ‘you might need them still’. Benefits of pulling this ‘almost clutter’ together into one file? The paper is off your desk but still within easy reach. You haven’t wasted time filing paper you’re probably not going to need again (and about 85% of what we file is never looked at again). If you do need to check it, it’s not far away. Occasionally you’ll need something from the file. As you touch each piece of paper decide whether you still need it. Throw out anything no longer needed. You’ll never have a very fat file.

Since I learnt this technique, many years ago now, I’ve never had an overflow. Think of it as weeding a garden – unwanted weeds settle into a garden just as easily as into our workspace. We have to be just as rigorous at weeding paper as we do plants, in order to keep order.

If you have more drawers they can be used for a week’s supply of regularly used stationery, things like often-used computer discs and one drawer for personal things.

You’ve got an old 3-drawer desk and no suspension file? Either get a mobile one and place it under or beside your desk or use drawer two to store your current action and drawer three to hold your ‘1/2 way to the rubbish bin’ material.

Don’t use your desk file drawer for longer-term projects to which you’re not constantly referring – they should be in your main filing cabinet (if your work justifies having another cabinet). Remember the basic rule – use the space closest to you for the things you constantly need.

And now – have fun clearing out those drawers. You’ll feel great when you’re done!





Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.



Webmasters/Ezine Publishers: Would you like to use this article?
You are invited to use any of our articles in your publication or website. The only requirements are that we are included on your mailing list, and that you include the following, after each article you use...

Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

© All Rights Reserved to Robyn Pearce, GettingAGrip.com, 25 Keven Road, R.D.4, Pukekohe, South Auckland 2679, New Zealand Ph.+ 64 9 232 0523


If you'd like Robyn to write something specific for your industry, please email us with your request.

Planning & Prioritising Online Course, $100 introductory price

Get Your Free
'How To Master Time'
Report

Image

Plus your FREE Time Resources Pack (Valued at $227)




Image

Client Testimonials

Catalyst For Efficiency ImprovementsIt was great to introduce our two job-share receptionists to Robyn’s Getting a Grip on The Paper War text.  It became a catalyst for us to improve our administration proce..." Marie Collins, Business Manager, The NZ Institute of Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Enhanced Efficiency Thank you for all the tips and words of advice you and your team have sent through.I have been constantly reading it and it does wonders to my line of work and also being a wife and mot..." Anaseini Liku, Communication & Media Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Cook Islands

Clear Directions Enhance Use Of TimeI have just finished reading 'Getting a Grip on Time' and 'Getting a Grip on the Paper War'.  Particularly your book on 'Time' got me back on track, and during the day I catc..." Ingrid Geerlings, Owner, www.houseofmilk.com

Leadership Book Helps To find the Real Me‘I’ve just been reading ‘Getting a grip on Leadership’.  It is very good and has had an impact on me.  I realised I’d lost my way a bit re who I am ..." Heather Millar, Manager, Professional Practice, Central North Island Kindergarten Association, New Zealand

Additional $120,000 Billed After Time Management CourseI have personally known Robyn Pearce for around 16 years. From time to time my firm has contracted Robyn on a project basis to work with our professional staff as well as partners in the fi..." John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, New Zealand

The Librarian Who Got Her Life Back!The kick-start that I needed was delivered by a velvet glove, but make no mistake the iron hand within the glove ensured that the message was received and understood. If you are going to spend some..." Heather Jenks, Associate University Librarian (Research and Learning Services), University of Canterbury

Increasing Personal Confidence And Job ManagementHaving worked already very successfully with our NZ Team, Robyn's support of the Australian Team over a 12-month period was fundamental to helping us cope with increased day to day workload - espec..." Julia Braun, General Manager - Marketing, Beiersdorf Australia

A Great Empathy And Affinity With PeopleI have used Robyn as an Executive Coach for key Senior Staff for a number of years now and couldn't recommend her more highly. I've found as people step up in the organisation they often struggle t..." Merilyn Havler, Then General Manager, Beiersdorf New Zealand

An Increase of 30% In Gross Turnover Due To Better SystemsWhen we reviewed the progress made as a result of your concepts, a staggering number of them had become an integral part of our day to day business, collectively making a huge difference to our eff..." Wayne & Lisa Hughes, Occupational Therapy Helping Children, NSW, Australia

Motivational And Thought Provoking SessionI'd like to highlight the benefits felt both by the staff members attending your sessions, and the motivational flow-on effects experienced throughout the Hotel.In the developmental sta..." Human Resources Manager, Wentworth Hotel (part of the Rydges chain)

Successful Paper Management Seminar Thank you for your interesting and indeed challenging speech. I could see all the people who've ..." Australian Institute of Credit Managers, Sydney Branch

Personalised Seminar For Long-term Results On behalf of the team at Strategic Lifestyle Management and our client Lend Lease I would..." SLM Conference and Incentive Manager, for client Lend Lease

Excellent Skilful Presenter "Thank you for the practical and informative Time Management seminar you recently gave to our senior m..." HR Manager, ANA Hotel, Sydney

Improve Your Organisation And Productivity The response to the program was extremely positive, with an average rating of 4.4 out of ..." Noel Cook, GM, Outdoor Network, Australia

Organisational Skills Improve To Lift Productivity Your time management seminars are one of the best things we've ever done. Weeks l..." Centrelink, Dubbo, New South Wales

Productivity Increased 50% Now several months later and my productivity has increased between 30% and 50%. I'm seeing more and bette..." Senior financial planner, IPAC, Australia

Timesaving Techniques Learned A wonderful surprise to learn how much I had improved since the first programme with you nine months a..." National Sales Manager, Personal Insurance, GIO Australia

Control Gained In Managing Time Feedback from the staff was very positive... all felt they had gained a great deal of control and di..." MD, C.Y. O'Connor College of TAFE, Northam, WA

Immediate Action For Change A lot of great new ideas and some very good new tools that I shall start implementing immediately. Group Services Trainer, Adecco

Increased Efficiency Saves 20-25 Minutes A Day "Many practical hints which helped me reorganise my office, to operate efficiently." ..." Senior Partner, Baldwins (Patent Attorneys)

Invaluable Resources In Time Management Books I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on the flexibility of your approach, and..." Human Resources Manager, Professional Services Review, Canberra

Self Management Crucial In Time Management You presented a most informative and challenging training session. Your ability to gain q..." Human Resources Manager, Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal of NSW

'Time Management Guru'! Once again you combine an enthusiastic presentation style with useful tips and techniques. Succinct and fun ..." Manager - Training & Development, Real Estate Institute of NSW

Beneficial Time Management Ideas Your presentation was brilliant, and your thoughts on how to make time management beneficial to eve..." Barbara McCarthy, President, Chatswood Chamber of Commerce, Sydney

Informative And Energising Speech We could not have chosen better. Your contribution was just what we wanted and needed, and I was t..." Raewyn James, Tamaki Teachers' Conference

Positive Feedback For Speech Robyn, you gave a fantastic speech, and I am still having positive feedback about your talk to this day..." Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator, Swiss Grand Hotel, Bondi, and co-ordinator of Eastern Suburbs Women's Breakfast

Work Life Balance Put Into Practice I know everyone who attended was fascinated by all your planning tips and I know many have put t..." Solo Home Business Network, Sydney

IT Company Gains Insight Into Effective Time Management We were very impressed... everyone gained considerable insight to effective ..." MD, IT software company, Auckland

Professional Approach Reinforces Time Management Principles Following a number of very positive reference checks we invited Robyn Pe..." Godfrey Pembroke National Conference, Hobart, Tasmania

Staff Queue For Time Management Tips! "Thank you! I'm sure you could tell from everyone's enthusiasm that they enjoyed your presenta..." Programme Director, Pioneer SWAP

Specific Personalised Advice Benefits Group Robyn gave much more than the professional information imparted in this kind of session...." Principal Heritage Officer, Heritage Council NSW

They're 'screaming for more'! Thanks for your wonderful presentation. I've had a lot of positive feedback from our staff, and they c..." GM's assistant, Austereo, Australia

L.J. Hooker Predicts Great Success In Using Their Time Your down-to-earth common sense certainly hit home to a lot of people, and the feedba..." Lyn McDermott, Ass. Director, Marketing and Communication, L.J. Hooker Ltd

5 Stars For Time Management Course Robyn, in light of this morning's session (and comments about short emails!) I could leave it the..." Wilf Marley, Principal, Marley Loft Systems (Accountants)

Simple Practical Action Steps For Work Life Balance We've had great feedback since your last session with the NZ Institute of Charte..." Denise Bovaird, Past President, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Improved Focus And Concentration After Time Management Course Since your time management course our managers have found that they ca..." John Moore, Then-HR Manager, International Cricket Council, Dubai

Jam-packed Personalised Seminar Very Effective   Robyn spoke to four of my Academy groups in the space of 11 days. I wa..." Barrie Barrett, Chairman, Academy for Chief Executives, United Kingdom

Awesome says Law Clerk, Bell Gully I just thought I'd spend a few minutes in the Proactive/Value-adding quadrant and let you know ho..." Law Clerk, Bell Gully, New Zealand

Excellent 'Management' Course, As Well As 'Time Management' I would like to extend a huge thank you for making your valuable time av..." David Greenslade, Managing Director, Strategi, New Zealand

We've Regained 30% Of The Time We Used to Lose! Since we worked with Robyn 5 months ago our team of 12 underwriters and support staf..." Senior Underwriter, QBE Insurance, New Zealand

Fantastic Course - Team Feedback Extremely Positive! Thanks very much for the Time Management programme you have conducted over the ..." Gareth McCulloch, National Sales Manager, Southern Hospitality Limited

 
Timely appointment scheduling system