It seems like getting one’s office organized has been on most of my clients’ minds this January. However, like many busy people, it can be difficult to know where to start. If this sounds like you, here is a list of areas you may want to tackle in the coming weeks:
1. Filing – If you have piles on your desks and every flat surface, you could be feeling overwhelmed just entering your office. Although we are moving to a more paperless world, there is still physical paperwork that needs to be managed. If you are starting with piles, the first step is to make sure you have closed your client files correctly with your office and archived the physical files correctly. That may require you to first, go through the piles and separate out all paperwork that pertains to a transaction that needs to be archived. Put all these papers in a box. Now that box becomes a separate project, but because it is contained, it will be less overwhelming. You may be able to sort through these papers in an afternoon.
Now when you tackle the rest of the papers on your desk, ask yourself where those papers go? Where is their home? Are the rest of your papers old paid bills? MLS memos? Brochures and flyers from the last NAR tradeshow you attended? The problem most people have is that because paperwork doesn’t have a home, it just piles up. But if you have file folders for your bills and bank statements, a folder for inspiration and ideas, and you dispose of memos after you read them, then you will be in much greater control of the papers that you have to sift through.
One thing I like to do for old paid bills that are still sent to you in the mail is gather them all together by year, then put them in a box which goes to storage at the end of that year. So as you are sorting and come across information for 2015 and 2016, you can easily file it directly to the box and get it out of your office.
2. Space Organization – Oftentimes we live with a system or space that we created years ago. It might have worked for how you did business then, but is it working for you now? Take a look at your space with a critical eye. Have you used everything in your space in the last year? Be sure to look in desk drawers, on shelves, and, of course, your desktop. Does everything there serve a current purpose? For example, if you have extra 3-ring binders that you saved from a project that you did five years ago but you can’t see how you might use those in the future, let those items go. Same with old learning materials, books, and even old computer software. If you hoard pens, even go through those and give away those writing implements that don’t bring you joy to use.A few years ago, I started doing a New Years 100 Item Challenge. The goal was to edit 100 items out of my house. You might want to give that a try in your office.
Now that you have edited out everything that you don’t need, let’s consider how it needs to be altered for greatest efficiency and joy.
3. Creating a Peaceful Space – Your office should be a peaceful refuge where you can focus and find inspiration. Take a look around your office. Are you utilizing the natural light? Is your desk chair comfortable? Do you need an office plant? How about the artwork? Do you need to jazz up the walls with some paint? Think about 7-10 things that you would change or add to your office to bring you the most joy. Remember, if your office feels like a cave or it is uncomfortable, you aren’t going to want to spend much time there.
4. Grab and Go – Think about the different activities that you are called upon to do on a regular basis – initial buyer meeting, listing presentation, open houses, showings, offer presentations, pending to close, and more. Is your office configured in such a way that the materials you need for each of these is easily accessible and grouped together so you don’t forget anything? Do you have a shelf or a space for already-printed buyer and seller packages or brochures? Do you have a new client files prepped and ready to go so if you get a phone call while at your office, you can whip out your intake form and make notes? Examine your space and your processes with a critical eye and make changes based on your needs.
5. Everything Has a Home – I mentioned this earlier in the editing section, but you also need to think about your processes for new items that come into your office. For example, where do receipts go? Where do your new buyer client files go? If you place an ad in a magazine and you decide to hold onto that magazine, where does that go? Everything needs to have a place to go.
Although you could indeed revolutionize your office in one day, if you don’t have a full day to spare, evolve from where you are now to your ideal space. Start with editing and then add or change to make it a peaceful and productive space. Make 2017 the year that you say, “Ahhhhh!!” when you enter your office and not, “Eh.”