1. Where to start. Always start with what you can see – then sort through what is behind closed doors and drawers. Touch each and every item and make an immediate decision as to what needs to happen to it.

2. De-clutter your desk. Shifting paper is distracting and takes up valuable time. Use clearly labeled in/out trays. Label the trays ‘to file’, ‘to do’, ‘to pay’, ‘to delegate’, ‘to read’, ‘to capture’, etc.)

3. Filing not piling. Create broad categories for your files and file like categories together for easy retrieval. Decide on a naming system and stick to it using colours and labels to keep you focused. Dedicate the last 20 minutes of your work week to filing to avoid an overwhelming paper build up.

4. Rearrange your furniture. Bring filing cabinets, frequently used reference materials and daily office supplies within arm’s reach of your desk. If you have to get up to put something away, chances are that you won’t do it.

5. Discard the trash. Make sure that your dirt bin is close to your desk and large enough to accommodate your average daily waste. Often our bins are too small or too far away so we place what we want to discard on our desks with the good intention to remove it later. Open your mail daily over the bin.

6. Group like things together. Put a plastic stationery sorting container on your desk to keep pens, pencils and other essentials organised and within reach. Throw out pens that no longer work (or work badly) and severely shrunken pencils immediately.

7. Electronic filing. Wherever possible, these files should mirror your paper filing system. Use the same naming system that you choose for your paperwork and learn to use the ‘search’ facility for the odd time that anything goes astray. Remember to do regular backups of your information, keeping a copy at your desk and another one off site. Periodically test your backups.

8. Keep your email ‘in-box’ empty. We all have a love/hate relationship with our email. We love the way it connects us to the world and hate the way things pile up quickly. You wouldn’t go to your home post box, remove your mail, read it and then put it back … why do you do it to your email? Move the read email into the appropriate folder and use the ‘flag’ or ‘tasks’ facility on Microsoft Outlook to remind you what actions need to be taken when.

About The Author

Hands up if you want an extra 2 hours a day? In the ideal world it would be fab if you had the time (and energy) to read this expert bio, but if you are like any of our clients, you are struggling to just get the bare essentials done. And while we could go on about how brilliantly amazing Tracey Foulkes, professional speaker and CEO of Get Organised is … we know you are probably on your way to another meeting. Just before you dive back into your email inbox, or fight your way through the clutter on your desk, here’s 10 things you might find Tracey blogging about: Prioritising (what to do first when everything is urgent) - Finding your way around your filing system - How to deal with distractions - Delegation (doing it well) - Managing meetings more effectively - Dealing with an exploding email - Apps that make my life easier - Juggling family and work - Scheduling (making time for everything) - Anything relating to business productivity … organising your space, life and time. Twitter: @traceyfoulkes @getorganised

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