Essential tips for a free flow office

We all need reminders from time to time to help keep us on track, stress-free and productive in our daily office life. Read and remember!

  1. Invest in a dozen of your favourite, inexpensive pens and a small tray or holder to avoid constantly searching for pens.  Keep the tray, filled with pens and a pile of recycled paper near the phone.
  2. Make your work day afternoon more productive by leaving the office during lunch time.  Energise yourself by breathing some fresh air, taking a walk or closing your eyes for a few minutes.
  3. Clear your desk top of all personal mementos. Hang them on the walls, place them on shelves, but give yourself space to work at your desk, without distractions.
  4. Schedule appointments and meetings with both beginning and ending times.  People are more ‘to-the-point’ when they are up against a deadline.
  5. Complete a phone call, then write down your next action relating to the call.  Do you need to make another call or mail something?  If you can’t do it now, write it down on your daily to-do list.
  6. Reduce interruptions at work by moving your desk so you can’t see the door.  Passers-by will not be able to catch your eye as they walk by, thus avoiding unnecessary conversation.
  7. Place tomorrow’s top priority task at the center of your desk on a small whiteboard or dash board before you leave work today and check your diary schedule so you know what tomorrow holds.  You’ll start your day focused.
  8. Designate a space in your office for items that need to go home with you. Do the same at home.
  9. Use a spreadsheet to make lists, keep track of projects and people. Use one to follow up on delegated items.
  10. Develop a form letter for your sales proposals, thank you notes and frequently asked questions. It’s less time consuming to tweak a form letter than it is to start one from scratch.
  11. Scan documents into computer files. As long as the files are organised, you’ll be able to access them quicker than paper files.
  12. Schedule time blocks in your day. Do like activities together when possible. Return phone calls together. Check and respond to emails only at two or three specific times during the day. Run all errands during one trip out of the office.
  13. Move the tabs on your hanging files to the same side (all left or all right). Your eyes will thank you for it.
  14. Keep track of monthly business and personal expenses by labeling a file folder or an envelope with the month. Just throw in receipts. All your expenses will then be together for end-of-the-month accounting.
  15. Read with a highlighter in hand. Mark the important parts to avoid rereading later. Take a highlighter to meetings.  As you make notes, highlight anything which will require action on your part.
  16. Gather all your equipment or office automation manuals. Attach a receipt to each one, or note purchase date, store or supplier and price on the covers. Place them in an ‘equipment’ or ‘appliance’ file.
  17. A cardigan is the most versatile piece of clothing you can own.  Keep one hanging in the office and wear it alone, buttoned or unbuttoned over a shell, button shirt or turtleneck, or over your shoulders to handle unexpected appointments.
  18. Separate your clothing by category of work, play, dress-up. Hang pieces of suits and outfits separately to expand your wardrobe options. Set up the week’s wear the weekend before, that way you won’t have to think about what to wear with the clock ticking.
  19. Watch for time wasters. We all waste time. Reduce your time wasters such as checking email, surfing the Internet, talking on the phone and going out for a cigarette.
  20. Guard your time. Feel free to say ‘no’ to others’ requests for your time. Don’t give in to pressure. Truly put your priorities first.
  21. Purchase an inexpensive handheld labeller. They are easy to use and have unlimited possibilities. Label drawers, storage containers, files and office equipment.
  22. Buy a heavy duty, three hole punch – one that will last for years. Punch papers for binders and reports.
  23. Purchase a six-drawer unit on wheels which can hold office supplies, backup supplies, reports, or anything else you don’t need in your desk.  They’re inexpensive and have many uses. 
  24. Invest in File Sorters. They can usually accommodate between four and eight file folders so you can view the file spines all at once. They will help you get and stay organised and will increase the longevity of your file ie: no sag.
  25. If you collect information on specific topics of interest you can easily store it in binders.  Use a separate binder for each topic. For example, you might collect articles on a specific industry, sales management or business travel. Simply put them in the binders and place on a bookcase for easy retrieval. Binders are also great for keeping multiple issues of newsletters.
  26. Instead of keeping project information on your desk or in a file, set up a basket, crate or Bankers Box for each project you’re currently working on. For example, you might be in charge of the company picnic, gathering information to start a promotion or incentive sales drive or collecting pricing comparisons from different advertising sources. Simply set up a container for each project, label it, and fill it with information.
  27. If you have an average amount of paper, try setting up a file for ‘next week’ and ‘next month’.  As you come across items that need to be done in those time periods, simply place them in the appropriate file. If you have a lot of ‘to do’s’, set up a file for each month of the year and each day of the month. File papers in the appropriate dates. If you have a large amount of paper, set up a file for each day of the month.
  28. Remember to sort mail and incoming paperwork over a recycling bin and near a shredder so a large percentage of it can immediately disappear from your life.
  29. Think vertical. Hang shelves and put personal items on them. Only keep on your desk the items you use every day.
  30. Have an OUT system. You can use a container near the door or a tote bag hanging on a hook by the door. Fill it with items that belong somewhere other than your office.
  31. Purchase magazine boxes to store booklets, magazines, catalogues you want to keep.
  32. Colour-coding your files makes it faster to find information.
  33. Sub-divide larger files with interior file folders.
  34. Return calls in batches. Leave specific messages and the time you called if the person you’re trying to reach isn’t available.
  35. Empty workspace of everything but the project you’re working on to cut down on distractions.
  36. Keep takeout menus from favourite restaurants in your office vicinity so you can order ahead and order in lunch or pick up dinner on your way home.
  37. Straighten your desk at the end of the day and especially at the end of the week so that you can start each Monday morning with a clear desk. 


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