Getting Organized for the New Year

The final month of the year is here, a time of wrapping things up before the New Year rolls around. Even though the approaching holidays make this a busy time, consider taking a little time to look at the systems you use to stay organized, and see if you can improve them.

First, clear off your desk. It is easy to set things aside to deal with “later” until the desk is no longer visible under the stacks and piles that quickly accumulate. Go through the stacks, shred or throw away anything that is outdated or unnecessary, and file the rest in the appropriate place.

Clean out your paper files. Even with “paperless” systems becoming more common, most of us accumulate way more paper than we need, and much of it ends up in our file drawers. The end of the year is a good time to free up space in your files to make room for next year’s documents. Spend some time going through your file drawer and see if the papers in there are still necessary and relevant. Look through your files and shred or recycle what you no longer need.

While you’re in your file drawer, take a new look at how your filing system is set up, and make any changes that will help it work better for you in the future. Do the file names make sense? Are the tabs and folders clearly labeled? Are you trying to stuff too many documents in a slim hanging file, when a box-bottom file is a better fit? Now is a great time to change file names, re-label, and get the right supplies to improve the system.

If you look through your office supply cabinet, you will probably find that you have supplies hiding in there that have never been (and likely never will be) used. Free up space by getting rid of those things you either never used or just don’t need. Most non-profits are happy to take office supplies off your hands. You may even get a tax deduction for donating these supplies to a charity.

Finally, delete junk from your computer. Files stored on your computer may not take up room in your desk, but they can fill a hard drive surprisingly fast. Delete drafts and out-of-date versions of files if you no longer need them. Use the search tools on your computer to find duplicate files, and keep just the ones you need. Clean out your email inbox, then check your other folders and delete any messages that are no longer needed. These can take up a surprising amount of space! This is also a good time to run a disk cleanup and defragment if they don’t run automatically on a regular schedule.

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