It's Time To Spring Clean Your Office

Work + Money

Sandy Abrams, Founder, Moisture Jamzz, Inc.

By Sandy Abrams

The concept of “spring cleaning” seems to validate the idea that we only have to clean and organize once a year.  Not true! It needs to be a daily maintenance, according to organization expert Mary Carlomagno, author of Secrets of Simplicity.

I talked with Mary before getting started on my own office de-cluttering.  She recommends making organization and de-cluttering a daily ritual like brushing your teeth and exercising. Think about how much time you waste looking for files or little post-its with contact information. Just a quick 10 minutes of prioritizing and purging in the morning and again at night will help you become clutter-free and organized, therefore being more efficient and having more free time to focus on the things you enjoy!

The one “must-have” item that Mary Carlomagno recommends is a filing cabinet.  This is not negotiable. “It can be the kind you schlep around the house with a handle on it, or the 5 drawer metal eyesore that never moves from its spot in the office. Whatever kind works best for you, actively use the file cabinet.”  She suggests we prioritize all documents on our desk into ABC categories.

A: Files that you need to refer to frequently or daily. Keep out and visible on your desk.
B: Files that you access only weekly. Keep near you, maybe in that file cabinet next to your desk or even on top of the desk.
C: Files that you don’t need to see any longer (just holding onto for tax purposes). Archive in the file cabinet or your computer.

After prioritizing, the key to organizing is keeping papers in their proper places and not commingling your kid’s school documents with your business papers and car insurance forms. Separate everything into categories.

I love what Mary says about organizing not being a “one size fits all” system.  You have to personalize it in the way that works best for you.  If you are a techy person, keep your important documents and lists and contacts on your computer. If you’re like me, go ahead and use the old fashioned Month-At-A-Glance calendar that I have on my desk where I can schedule, make lists, cross things off and keep contact information notes until I input them into my computer.  Being consistent in utilizing your unique system is critical. If you like to write lists on paper, carry one notebook to use. You don’t want a gazillion post-it notes all over the place -- it makes you feel as scattered as it looks! Know your personality and set up a system that you will actually follow and maintain daily, not seasonally, and definitely not just once a year at springtime.

The top 5 things (in addition to the filing cabinet!)  that Mary Carlomagno recommends you have as you begin to de-clutter:

  1. Paper shredder
  2. Hard drive back-up
  3. Labeler for files
  4. Same color files
  5. “Project” folders to keep track of projects. They can replace an in-box; set them up chronologically.

Simply put, Mary says “Manage your stuff, don’t manage how you feel about it.  No need to over analyze, just set up your system and maintain it daily.” The results will be worth the effort. Once it’s done in a big way, you really want to maintain it. It’s like losing weight, you see how good it feels and you want to keep that feeling!

Sandy Abrams is founder and CEO of Moisture Jamzz, Inc. Founded in 1993 around her signature moisturizing glove product, Moisture Jamzz has counted among its clients Bath & Body Works; the Estée Lauder Company (Origins and Aveda); H2O PLUS; Crabtree & Evelyn, and others. Today, it is still a privately held corporation that Sandy runs with her husband. Sandy’s new book Your Idea, Inc. is a step-by-step guidebook to help first time entrepreneurs follow in her footsteps.

Read Sandy Abrams' 5 Tips on How to Start a Business

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  • Great simple approach to get on that organized path I always strive for. I just moved to a larger office and such moves initiiates the de-clutter process in keeping your new space efficient for daily progress in the work place. Thanks for the great tips I can use to keep it this way!

    Posted by Judi Nale, 16 March 2010.

  • Thank you for this article. I have tried organizing my paperwork at home using a filing cabinet and categories. I couldn't figure out why I still spent so much time looking for the folder I wanted-after categorizing by frequency, I realized I had several related folders that need to go in different priority categories! I have moved the files I don't need to look at/have access to monthly out to a filing cabinet in the garage! Thank you for the simple tip of prioritizing. It has successfully decluttered my home office which is in a corner in my living room!

    Posted by BBernice, 15 March 2010.

  • I end my day by cleaning off my desk, so that way when I get into the office in the morning, I am ready for a fresh start.

    Posted by burginfamily4, 15 March 2010.

  • Daily, daily, daily! I think I'll try this mantra for a while -- I'm too far behind in organizing for my own comfort. Thanks for the stimulus!!

    Posted by Kathleen Hurty, 15 March 2010.

  • Great article!! I am working right now on cleaning up my desk. I want to be all organized and up to date in my office. Thanks!

    Posted by corriemae, 12 March 2010.

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    Have a great day!


    Posted by Bodewadmi, 10 March 2010.

  • This brings to mind a quote, "Do what you've always done, Get what you've always got"! (I don't know the author of the quote.) So spring clean your office, then keep it up everyday. Thanks for the great article!

    Posted by kkemp, 10 March 2010.

  • Great ideas to start on now. My office can really use this type of organization.

    Posted by Preschdir, 9 March 2010.

  • Great common sense approach. Now for the will power to start and continue. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by cmcmlb, 8 March 2010.

  • The articles touches in great ideas. Some of the ideas that I do is the fact of having seperate files and categorized depending on how much I have to glance at it during the week. Great article thank you.

    Posted by msmkdiva, 8 March 2010.