How Journalism’s Questions Will Organize Your Office
If you’ve ever spent an hour hunting for a particular file or product sample or spare part, you know the frustration of disorganization. Disorganization disrupts productivity, and it’s a business killer. To organize (or re-organize), think like a journalist. Ask yourself the famous journalism questions: What, Where, When, Who, How, and Why.
WHAT – Label It
Everything has a name, but it has to be visible before it’s useful. An unlabeled file folder slows your productivity every time you have to open it to see what’s inside. An unlabeled hard drive could contain anything; you’re going to have to take the time to plug it in just to find out if it has useful business development lists, or those embarrassing photos from the office picnic. And what about the cables for the drives? How long does it take to find the right cable if they’re unlabeled? Whether you use a label maker, sticky tags, or a pen, create a label for anything you’re storing.
WHERE – Master File List
Now that you’ve given everything a label, it needs a place. A rule of thumb: The more you use it, the closer it should be. Imagine a typical work day, and picture what you access routinely. Files you use daily should be nearby, while rarely-needed archives can go into less accessible storage areas. Most important, create a Master File List showing the location of categories of files. You yourself may know where everything is, but co-workers may not. A Master File List will save valuable search time.
WHEN – Life Cycle
Like everything, information has a life cycle. First it’s created, then it’s used or revised, then it’s archived, then it’s deleted. Any system will get bogged down by files that should have been archived or shredded long ago. Add another level of efficiency to your labels by including a file’s creation date, and its projected archive date and deletion date. As files “age,” they can be moved out of the active storage areas, freeing up space for new information.
WHO – Accessibility
Documents usually contain sensitive information of some kind, whether it’s confidential client data, your business plan, or just the office Secret Santa list. Whatever it is, secure storage will help keep that information private. High-tech paper with embedded RFID makes documents trackable, and biometric authentication keeps your stored files out of the wrong hands. The more your office deals with sensitive information, the more you need well-designed secure access within your organization system.
HOW – Something for Everyone
High-density mobile shelving, rotary files, multi-level racks – with the array of office organization and storage options available, you could be hard-pressed to choose the most appropriate system for your operation. Create an inventory of the quantities and types of items you use and store in your office. This will point you in the direction of the right solution. A conversation with a storage expert will help you determine exactly what you need, and what products are the best fit.
WHY – Because Productivity Matters
You already know that productivity is vital to the health of your business. The more efficient your operation, the more productive it is, and the more profitable it is. Time is money, and a great organization system actually makes money for you by letting your business run smoothly and efficiently.
Once you’ve gone through the organization process, continue asking the journalist’s questions to keep improving the efficiency of your system. What, Where, When, Who, How, and Why will help you maintain optimal productivity.
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