“One look at my desk tells me I need to get the office organized, but there is always too much to do to take on the major overhaul I need.”
You are looking at the process of getting organized as a big, difficult job that will take time you don’t have to spare. Replace that mindset by seeing organization as a way of doing things that will save you time. And effort. Being organized really is a way of working “smarter rather than harder,” cliche as it is.
Not to make too fine a point, but outer disorganization is often symptomatic of inner chaos. See your goal not as attacking clutter but as creating order inside and out. Recognize how much time you waste paper shuffling, looking for things, and redoing work done to hastily. Imagine how competent you will feel in your new, orderly environment.
There will never be a perfect time to begin the process. Start now. Just as the forester must make time to sharpen his ax, so you must make time to prepare the tools of your trade. Make time every day to take at least one step toward organization; this is best done by eliminating lesser priorities from your agenda.
- Start with that desk that’s bothering you. Create a simple standing file for any paper files you must still handle. As often as we’ve heard that computers create paperless offices, a lot still crosses many desks. If you have enough paper to warrant it, sort it into colored file folders clearly labeled: Today, Youth, Newsletter, whatever. As papers come to you, immediately put them into the appropriate folder. Yes, this technique has been around awhile—because it works when used.
- Many church offices become depositories for all sorts of stuff that others seem not to know what to do with. See if storage space can be designated someplace away from the office. Enlist volunteers to organize the materials there. Put a notice in the newsletter or on the website periodically, letting people know when the room will be cleared; give them opportunity to claim any material there or to tag it to have it saved. When people bring things to the office, direct them to the storage room.
- More is not better. Pitch what you don’t need. The fewer things you have around you, the easier it is to organize and use what you have. Establish a permanent parking place for all your supplies and equipment. Even in this tech time of 2015, having scissors, stapler, and tape go missing can still be an issue. If these things have a tendency to disappear from your office, borrow a trick from the post office and use small chains to anchor them in the appropriate places. Never loan your personal equipment; keep a separate set as loaners. You may want to label each piece: Thanks for returning me to the office.
- Pare down your activities too. Disorganized people are more likely to load their days with low-priority tasks and not investing their time in jobs that move them toward their goals. Assistants who always try to do everything for everybody, regardless of how mundane the task, simply are not being as effective in their jobs as they might be. Far better to do less and achieve more.
Note: while you are cleaning out your desk, please think about sending some samples to us to share with other church communicators in the Great Idea Swap. Click here to find out more! We all can learn from what we share!