Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts: Organize workspace to boost productivity

CorrespondentApril 28, 2014 

Emily Parks, owner of Organize for Success, based in Raleigh, says following some basic principles of organizing your space can keep you working efficiently.

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Time spent searching for old emails or filed-away paperwork can take a toll on your business’ productivity by the end of the day. But following some basic principles of organizing your space can keep you working efficiently, said Emily Parks, owner of Raleigh-based Organize for Success.

Parks consults with small business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate teams across North Carolina to help them increase productivity.

One of her cardinal rules is to routinely delete and discard – whether it’s an email, electronic document or hard copy.

To make finding things easier later, get rid of anything you no longer need, as well as duplicates or information easily found online.

“The caveat for this tidbit is that any business owner should check with a lawyer and an accountant about what is no longer needed,” Parks said.

Resist the temptation to treat your email’s inbox as a holding zone, she said. Always sort or delete your emails.

To keep papers from taking over your office, Parks suggests putting them in containers to provide boundaries. Once you’ve filled them, it’s time to “edit” the pile. Finding items later will be easier if they’re electronic, so if you accumulate many hard documents, consider investing in a scanner.

For the items you do keep, it’s crucial to assign everything a home, Parks stressed. Group “like with like” by creating categories such as action items, current projects and references.

People often want to store important documents in the space nearest to themselves, she said, but instead that space should contain what they’ll reach for most frequently.

To make the most of tight space, look to the walls. Consider adding some shelves or wall-mounted file organizers.

Parks uses the catchphrase “horizontal is hidden, vertical is visible” with her clients to stress that when papers are stacked on a desk or shelf, the items at the bottom of the pile are often forgotten and simply create clutter. Filing folders vertically makes locating items faster.

Parks also advises clients to practice “the power of one” by limiting themselves to a single calendar, just one task management tool, one address book and so on.

Reach Jamie Kennedy Jones at jamiekennedyjones@gmail.com.

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