Break Free From the Pack Rat Routine

Are you a pack rat? If you find yourself surrounded by papers, constantly looking for something on your desk or simply struggling to keep up with the pace of business, then you may be a pack rat.

If you answered yes to this question, the good news is you’re not alone. According to the American Demographic Society, Americans waste nearly 9 million hours per day looking for lost items. The Wall Street Journal adds that the average businessperson will waste 30 days this year looking for misplaced items on a messy desk.

Taking some time to organize your office space and toss those items that you really do not need will help reduce stress and increase productivity, not to mention save time and money. So give it a try… break free from the pack rat syndrome and get yourself organized.

Space challenges are the most common area of disorganization. While limited space may present a legitimate challenge there are solutions for maximizing the space you do have.

Begin by assigning a “home” for every item that can be found around your desk. This includes all those tiny paper clips and rubber bands that collect at the bottom of your drawer — unrecognized and unused. Assigning permanent homes for your personal items will trigger retrieval when you need the item in a hurry. Convenient storage is also critical. Make sure to always store items near the point of use and keep your frequently used items close at hand. For example, corner desk space is typically prime location for frequently used items. Try innovative storage tools that make use of otherwise “dead space.”

Limited space is an issue that all employees face whether they have the large corner office or the smallest cube in the department. The most important advice when dealing with limited space is to purge periodically! At least two times per year is recommended. It is a fact that 80% of documents filed will never be used again.

There are two forms of organizational purging: throwing unneeded documents away and properly archiving files that you don’t necessarily need at your fingertips. Unneeded documents go straight to the shredder or recycle bin, but those important files that may need to be referenced down the road need a home.

But be realistic, if your existing organizing system is too complex, it will not get used.

Now that you know the basics about beating the pack rat syndrome and becoming more organized in the office, it’s time to analyze, strategize and attack!

This article reprinted from Workspace Magazine, A Publication of Staples Contract & Commercial, Inc. © 2005 Staples Contract and Commercial.

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