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Getting Organized ... AND Staying Organized

So you spent $350 on new file folders, colored labels, sorters, drawers and holders. You meticulously went through every piece of paper you could find and got rid of those creative writing pieces from the third grade.

Every pen, paper clip and rubber band is neatly stored in its place. Looking around with a sense of pride, you think that the 35 hours spent getting organized was well worth it. Now you can be efficient and productive.

Fast-forward six months ... where is that contract? You dig through the piles, desperately looking for it. The client is impatient and holding on the phone. Not in this pile, maybe on that chair ... you groan as the paper clips fall off the desk and scatter all over the floor. What went wrong?

Getting organized is not a one-time-only job. It involves not only cleaning up the mess but also learning how to keep it cleaned up. It seems like a lot of work, but the time spent keeping things orderly will save you time in the end.

Start by working on your attitude toward organization. Most of us do not want to be bothered with putting things away every time we use them. After all, we are just going to need that file again tomorrow.

The problem with this approach is that by the time tomorrow arrives, nine other things that are going to be used in the near future have piled up on top of the file we need. Multiply this phenomenon by seven and you can see that within a week things are pretty much back to square one.

Remind yourself that the 15 seconds spent putting that file away and then the 15 seconds used to pull it out of the file drawer when you need it again might save you anywhere from two to 20 minutes in the future.

One of the great enemies to staying organized is the mail. It comes in by the truckload, it seems. And it doesn't throw itself away. Open the mail daily. Make it a routine. Toss all of the junk mail immediately. Opening the mail directly over a trash can be a timesaving ritual.

Staying organized can be easy if you make it all a part of your routine. If you keep forcing yourself to put things away each time you use them, before long it will be automatic and you won't have to spend hours every six months or so cleaning up.

You will be able to service your customers in a timelier manner and appear more professional in all of your business dealings.

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