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Blog: Working From Home
Keeping Your Office Organized: Why Is It So Hard?

If you have trouble getting organized, you're not alone. In every annual poll about New Year's resolutions, people admit that next to losing weight, getting organized is their highest priority. They're especially concerned about their offices!

People often ask me "Why can't I seem to keep my office organized?"

The answer may be that they don't have the time. Or the interest. Or the skills. Some people put "getting organized" at the bottom of their priority list until their clutter is out of control. Then they get overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on one small area at a time, they look at the entire room and see such a mess they don't know where to start. So they don't start at all.

But behind these reasons, there is something else. Something you may not have thought much about.

Times Have Changed

Office procedures were created at a time when few people owned their own businesses or worked from home. Virtually all businesses employed secretaries who handled office administration. The secretary took phone calls and messages, kept appointment calendars, and followed-up on work in progress. She created the documents, designed, used and managed the filing system that housed them. She retrieved and returned files and kept the system current.

Now, business is completely different. We all have personal computers. We are accustomed to being more self-sufficient. We create our own documents, manage our own files and calendars, and handle our own record-keeping. Even though we have never been trained in any of these tasks, we expect ourselves to tend to our core business and manage these administrative functions as well. However, many of us were never taught organizational skills so we don't know how to do administrative tasks. No wonder we can't keep up!

Habits Haven't

Inertia is a powerful force and habits are hard to break. Despite the fact that we now use computers to create almost all business communication, we are still in the habit of wanting to see things on paper. People print out emails and other documents, creating unnecessary paper that clogs filing systems. Even after a project is completed, inactive files remain in drawers where they take up space and make it difficult to find the active files we are looking for.

Now, in addition to paper, workers accumulate computer clutter! Hundreds of emails and other documents tend to remain in the system though they're no longer needed. As with paper, searching through hundreds of outdated computer files to find the one you want is frustrating, inefficient and a huge time-waster.

Unfortunately, it's easier to keep doing the same old thing than it is to change, even when you want to change. But as the saying goes, "If you do what you've always done, you'll have what you've always had." And if what you've always had is a messy office, it requires learning new habits in order to have an organized one.

What's the Solution?

It's important to realize that almost everyone struggles with these issues. And, being better organized is a skill you can learn. You can learn by reading articles and books by professional organizers and other productivity experts, attending workshops they offer, or working directly with them to address the things that bother you the most. But just knowing what to do isn't enough. The solution is to form new habits by consistently making small improvements in the ways they suggest. As you see your productivity increase and your stress decrease, you'll be glad you did!

posted on: 12/19/2010 8:51:11 PM by Elaine Quinn, Author & Speaker
category: Business

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Working From Home

by Elaine Quinn, Author & Speaker

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About Elaine:

Elaine Quinn is an internationally recognized expert on organizing, time management and productivity for the work-from-home solo professional. She is the author of "There's No Place Like Working From Home," filled with tips for solopreneurs who want to get organized, stay motivated and get things done. Learn more at www.NoPlaceLikeWorkingFromHome.com.

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Favorite Books and Products

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  • "There's No Place Like Working From Home"
    As the author, naturally this book is one of my favorites!

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