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!