It’s vital as soloists to set up organising tools that suit your situation and working style. They do not have to be expensive nor overly fancy to do an excellent job of getting you organised and keeping you that way. Here are five of my favourites.
1. Toaster file
In other words, one of those tiered racks for housing documents in manila folders. Whether wire, plastic or perspex, these are ideal for housing current projects on your desk or credenza. Take care not to use them for storing documents, they are simply an ordered way of accessing current working files. Label the tab side of each folder with the name of the project inside. The tiers ensure you can easily see the name of each folder: easy visibility, easy access. These organising tools particularly great for visual people who like to see what projects they have on the go, providing documentation for projects actually fits into a manila folder!
TIP: To avoid manila folders sagging and curling over, choose a larger rack with a height of 21cm minimum.
2. Journal boxes
These are the upright magazine boxes you see in libraries. They vary in width anywhere from 6 to 60cm. They are excellent to store professional journals on your bookshelf and are also great as an alternative to the traditional ‘in-tray’. They are especially useful for people whose in tray seems to miraculously multiply and spill over on a regular basis. Use a journal box to minimise spillage and enjoy better visibility of documents.
TIP: For documents, especially active files, stick to a 5 to 8cm journal box width. This will assist in attempts to conquer your clutter!
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3. Alarm clock
Yes, the simple alarm clock can help you conquer procrastination and is especially effective for computer related tasks. Schedule your work in half hour blocks. Thirty solid minutes on one project, five minutes break, then thirty minutes on the same, or a different project. Use your alarm clock to get through a morning or even a whole day like this and experience amazing increases in your productivity.
TIP: Don’t be tempted to use your mobile phone as an alarm. The aim is to minimise exposure to potential distractions of which the mobile has many: private calls, texting, finding a new ringtone, checking latest conversion rates…
4. Business card wheel
Also called an open card file. If you choose to keep colleagues’ hardcopy business cards after you’ve entered the details into the electronic ether, this little gizmo will save your sanity. It has protective sleeves for each card, is very sturdy and doesn’t take up a lot of space. Cards are easier to access than via traditional rectangular shaped holders. It’s simple to add or remove cards so you are much more likely to maintain the system – and be able to find exactly the card you need when you need it.
You can have the best organising tools and systems in the universe but if they’re not applied and maintained, no one benefits. As a soloist you rely on YOU. Commit to discovering the most appropriate systems and tools for your working situation. Then commit to using them. Everyday. Your business depends on it.
Tell us about your favourite office organising tools.