Do you utilize file trays in your office or at home? Is it helping with your organization and productivity? Are you utilizing it correctly or does it just sit there and collect piles of papers?

Every disorganized office that I have worked with has one of these trays on their desk. There is a pile of unorganized random papers in the tray. What is the point of using a tray? The piles will sit just as well on the desk. Maybe it's a mental thing. People think that if the pile of paper is in the tray, it just looks more presentable because it's in a tray. Wrong! Take the paper out of the tray and get rid of the tray. It can be used in a more productive and efficient way.

Tackle the paper in the tray. I bet you don't even know what half of the stuff pertains to in the tray. You may have been looking for something and forgot it was in the tray. You might have a really important paper in the tray that you were supposed to tackle. Maybe it was following up with an important client or maybe you missed an important meeting that would have generated business for you. Maybe it was a project you were going to start working on, but never got around to it. Are you the type that feels that you don't know where to put the paper when you receive it, so you just continue to ad to the pile because it's there?

So, how do you tackle this pile? First step: Take the pile out of the tray. Second step: Take the tray off your desk and don't put it back unless you have a new system and a new way to use the tray. Third: Start with the top paper, and figure out what it is and start making category piles. You may find you are shredding or throwing out most of it. So if you are throwing it out now, did you really need it back when you put it in the pile? When you are done categorizing, now you can set up your filing systems based on what you have in front of you. 

So how do you utilize these trays? Only store them on your desk if you use the items in them everyday. If not, get the tray off your desk.
1.    Utilize to hold labeled manilla folders that you grab everyday. Write on the label so it's facing you in the tray.
2.    Utilize to hold important binders or important notebooks that you grab everyday.

Think about if this tray is really the right tray for what you are storing. There are so many great office organizing products out there. Choose the one that is best going to fit what you need to hold and is going to be the most efficient and productive product for you.

Don't use them for a drop spot for papers that you have no idea what to do with. It will become a breeding ground for paper and will create more work for you months down the road when you need to dig through it.

If you are hiring me to help you with your office organization, please do not try to hide the tray under the desk. I promise you, I will be looking for it!

Organize! Energize!

Do you have a home with limited storage, cabinet, and closet space? Are you utilizing that space the best way you can? Some people think they need to add an addition onto their home or feel that they should move to a bigger home. Wait, slow down, re-evaluate your space and re-organize.

Here are 7 tips to get creative with your space.
1. If you have been following my blogs, you know the first thing I am going to say. Yes, take everything out of the space you want to organize. You can't get a clear vision of the space if there is clutter in the way.
2. Organizing is like a puzzle. If you have a challenging space, you have to utilize every inch of space, and use it well.
3. Look at empty wall space, under cabinets, under the bed, basement, tops of closets, etc as a way to store items. You really have to get creative. We have a very tiny kitchen and I don't like to clutter counter tops. I didn't want to store my microwave on the counter. We had empty wall space and behind it was a closet. I had my husband cut out a square in the wall and now the microwave sits nicely in that area. I'm not saying you have to cut through walls, but you really have to have a vision outside of the box.
4. Contain items and keep like items together. When items are contained, it allows for better use of space.
5. Do you really need everything that is stored in the area you are organizing? Can you shift items to another area in the home?
6. Bring in a professional organizer to help with the process. Bringing in an organizer who is not in your home everyday will have a different vision than what you look at every day.
7. There are so many great and unique organizing products out there today. Figure out what type of containers you need before you head to the store. Choose the one that will best allow you to maximize the space you have.

People who have small spaces tend to envy people with large spaces. I find that people who have lots of space are not utilizing it correctly. People feel because the space is there they have to fill it. Areas get utilized as drop zones and items get thrown into cabinets with no organization. Organize your large spaces and you will have even more space than you think you have.

You will save money by not having to add that addition on to your home just because you ran out of room to store your belongings.

Organize! Energize!

Well, tax season is upon us. Some may cringe knowing they have to get everything together. It's time to search the home or office for important documents, receipts, etc.  How many of you have been charged an extra fee by your accountant for being disorganized or not being prepared for your appointment?

If you are having a difficult time gathering all your information, make a plan for next year starting now. We are two months in 2013, start getting organized now for next tax season.

Here are 5 tips to follow:
1.    Most important step. Create a folder or small organizing container (depending on how much tax information you have) for the tax year 2013. Keep it in your filing cabinet or wherever you store your important documents that you refer to throughout the year. If you have tons of documents and use a bin, do not throw the documents into the bin, it will defeat the purposing of maintaining organizaiton. Keep sorted by category in the bin.
2.    File monthly receipts in a pouch or file. When your credit card statement arrives, match up the receipts and file with your credit card statements. Do you have electronic statements? Keep monthly receipts stored in labeled envelopes.
3.    Donations. Keep track of donations throughout the year, whether it be keeping the proof of donation in a file or store them in your 2013 tax folder if you don't need to refer to them again.
4.    Important documents. If you don't need to refer to them throughout the year, keep any important documents for tax purposes filed in your 2013 folder.
5.    Banking information. Keep any banking information organized. Keep your statements and receipts together.

Basically, in a nutshell, as you receive documents throughout the year, keep them organized, labeled, and filed. This is going to keep you organized throughout the year.

As the end of 2013 draws near, refer to your 2013 tax folder. Go through and gather all the information in the folder. Relax and know that everything for the year is in one place. You won't get stressed because you know all the information is in one area, organized and contained.

Following these steps and maintaining organization throughout the year is going to save you time, money, and reduce your stress.

Organize! Energize!

For  many of us, staying on top of our email can be an overwhelming experience.  Tackle this once and for all and start fresh this week. If you have too many emails that are just sitting there, it's time to clean house. Plan to spend some time, depending on how many emails you have, and declutter your mail box. Do it now, and set up a plan and procedure going forward to manage your emails.

Here are 6 tips to help you manage your emails.

1.   Set up folders for the contacts who email you most frequently. Set up subject folders to store important information relating to a certain topic. When you have worked on the email, immediately send to that folder. If you have trips planned in the future, store all that information in a folder. Know that you can grab that information when your trip gets closer. Follow this also for other events that are planned in the near future. Get them out of your inbox.
2.   Delete any junk mail. Touch it once and delete. Going forward, if it isn't useful to you, delete immediately.
3.    Unsubscribe to emails that you consistenly receive that you no longer want to clog up your mailbox and are of no use to you.
4.    If it's an email that needs to be handled right away but you can't handle it at that time, print it out and attach to your to-do list. People will say it's a waste of paper, but how many times did you forget to handle an important email because it was still sitting on your desktop? If it's important and you don't want to forget it, print it out.
5.   Utilize the flagging options. Color code for urgency and follow-up purposes.
How often you check your emails is your preference. Everybody has different schedules. Whatever you decide, make it efficient and productive for you.

Think about how you function with your emails now. Is it working for you? If not, it's time to develop a new system and make the system work for you. Many of you may already use the steps above, but you may feel you need some tweaking. Hopefully, this blog will help motivate you to tackle your emails and start fresh with a new system.

Organize! Energize!