Executives spend an average of 6 weeks per year looking for lost documents, notes the National Association of Professional Organizers. 5 Tools for Clearing Business Clutter. Reducing office clutter can drastically reduce the need to spend time looking for lost paperwork. Try these five tools to reduce office clutter and take back control of your professional life.
1. Scan business cards to reduce small paper clutter
It’s easy to hang on to business cards you receive at networking events “just in case” you need them again. However, unless you regularly review and recycle cards, you can find that you have hundreds you don’t need. And, of course, the one contact card that you do need will be hard to find. Reduce paper clutter without losing these contacts by scanning the cards and saving them to a program like Evernote, which is free. Alternately, manually enter information into your smartphone or a contact management system.
2. Use cloud storage to save important documents instead of printing
The more printed materials you have, the greater the likelihood of clutter taking over your desk. Instead, eliminate or cut back on your business printing by saving important documents to the cloud. Cloud storage utilities like Box and Dropbox have free and paid plans to accommodate user needs. Keep your cloud storage files organized by client, by topic (i.e. Marketing, Finance, Trends) or by another scheme that makes sense to you, so you won’t have to spend a long time searching for documents.
3. Scan and organize receipts right in Quickbooks
Those business receipts you’re holding on to can create a lot of paper clutter. Enter Quickbooks accounting software, which allows you to scan receipts right into the system and access scanned receipts later on from any device. Scan those paper receipts then throw them away before they can create inter-office clutter. Give the software a free trial for 30 days, then try a paid plan that meets your business needs.
4. Use a to-do list to ensure you hit daily checkpoints
If you tend to miss deadlines or have work-related emergencies due to clutter, a simple to-do list can help you stay focused. Draw up a daily to-do list then base your workflow from this. About one hour before the end of your workday, check your list one last time and tackle any items that need immediate attention. Use any items that remain as the foundation for the following day’s to-do list. Ending the work day on a high note can propel you to continue using your list to tackle goals and reduce your clutter.
5. Keep “must have” papers organized through a color coded file system
While these steps will help you to reduce the physical amount of paper you need to have on hand, you probably won’t be able to eliminate clutter-causing paper. For the paper you do need to have on hand, use a color-coded filing system to maintain document order. Store all accounts receivable statements or invoices in green file folders, keep all meeting agendas in yellow folders or keep all in-process work in red file folders. This way, you can more easily find a needed document by looking in the color folder you’d expect to find it.