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Productivity / Office administration

How NOT to be organised

Working as a Professional Organiser, I’ve seen first hand the most common mistakes that undo our ability to be organised. There are many traps for young players.

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I’ve worked with offices; small, large and in-between and have noticed there are five main mistakes that are common to just about every client I’ve consulted with.

Do any of these issues sound familiar to you?

1. Not assigning items a home

  • Trying to find the fresh printer cartridge…usually when you’re on deadline to print out a proposal that could win you a great new bit of business.
  • Spending time searching for a document on your computer because you’re not sure where you saved it or what you called it. Even the ‘search’ button isn’t helping right now.
  • You know you’ve got three staplers and six boxes of staples, but because your supplies don’t have a regular home, these simple tools are lost in the fray.
  • You’re always losing the fat cheque that arrived last week in the mail, misplacing an important receipt, or forgetting what you’ve done with last year’s tax return.

Not being able to find things with ease makes for a costly, frustrating and desperate search when you could be spending that time creating income.

"You know you’ve got three staplers and six boxes of staples, but because your supplies don’t have a regular home, these simple tools are lost in the fray."

2. Saying yes when you should be saying no

Are you constantly under-delivering thanks to your over-promising?

Being busy and in demand is great, but you need to get comfortable with saying no or “I can’t help you right now, but would love to next week.”

Providing less than the best is not enhancing your reputation. This is where the old adage “less equals more” really rings true.

Learning to say no is a valuable tool that will assist you in providing high quality service. If you’re overstretched or overworked, you run the risk of compromising your service and your reputation. Sometimes, saying no, or saying “not right now” may just save your bacon. The right clients will often wait!

Want more articles like this? Check out the office administration section.

3. Spending time on the wrong task

Spending too much time on the internet or email is a common issue. Tip: pick up the phone! Making poor decisions about how you spend your time is a sure-fire path to inefficiency.

4. Lack of focus

Focus: You can be smart, well-read, creative and knowledgeable, but none of it is any use if your mind isn’t on the job.

From issue 2501 of New Scientist magazine, 28 May 2005, page 28

Are you someone who doesn’t often finish things? Do you have too many projects on the go? Focus means knowing which tasks are important and giving these your full attention. Focus means planning, starting, doing and completing one task at a time. Very few people are skilled enough to multitask with a high level of accuracy. Do yourself a favour and work out what is at the top of your list and be organised prioritise your workload accordingly.

5. Not having systems in place

Examples include:

  • Not invoicing your clients regularly, which compromises your cash flow. Long term, this kind of neglect could kill your business.
  • Paying bills late because there’s no system for managing your accounts and suffering the overdue fees.
  • Developing routines can help – check out my earlier article on developing routines.

If you’re able to be organised and avoid these five pitfalls, you’ll reap the benefits of efficiency.

Which are you most guilty of?

Lissanne Oliver

is a Professional Organiser, Trainer, Author and TV presenter who helps organise people’s space. She is the best-selling author of "SORTED! the ultimate guide to organising your life - once and for all" (Hardie Grant Books).

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