7 Biggest Information-Organizing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
As Professional Organizers, we often come across people struggling with organizing their home offices and workspaces. Many of them make the same mistakes that can hinder their progress towards an organized and clutter-free environment. In this article, we will discuss the 7 biggest information-organizing mistakes we see in our work with clients and provide practical tips to avoid them.
1. Not knowing the difference between “Action” & “Reference”
One of the most important concepts in organizing is understanding the difference between information that requires action and information that only needs to be kept for possible future needs. This is crucial for beginning to tackle piles of paper and other clutter. It is essential to separate papers that require immediate action, such as bills, from information that can be filed away for future reference, such as receipts. By doing this, you can prioritize your tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information you have to manage.
2. Not having a standard contact management system
Do you have scraps of paper, rubber-banded stacks of business cards, an email address book, and a paper address book? This is a surefire way to lose track of your important contacts. The key is to decide on one system and put everything in one place. Whether it’s an app or a physical book, make sure that it is easily accessible and user-friendly.
3. Equipment and supplies making it difficult to file
Having poor quality filing cabinets or cheap hanging folders can create barriers to effective and timely filing of your paperwork. Drawers that stick or don’t work correctly can make you not want to open them at all, leading to a buildup of clutter. Investing in quality supplies like sturdy filing cabinets and folders can help make this process easier and more efficient.
4. Not dealing with paper and information on a regular basis
The longer you let your inbox or mail basket sit, the more overwhelming it becomes. Just like doing dishes daily, it is important to make time to deal with paperwork and information daily. Set aside a specific time each day to go through your mail and other paperwork. This will help prevent a buildup of clutter and make it easier to prioritize tasks.
5. Not having a secure home for your passwords
In today’s digital age, it is more important than ever to keep your passwords secure and change them often. Having a system for tracking your passwords can help you avoid forgetting important information. There are many password-keeper software programs available that are secure, encrypted, and require only one master password to unlock all your other passwords.
6. Keeping too much for too long
It is crucial to know how long to keep papers. Tax supporting documents like bank statements can be shredded after seven years, but it’s advisable to save the tax return itself indefinitely. Investment and real estate documents may need to be kept forever as well. Consult your attorney or accountant to be completely certain about your unique situation. It is essential to avoid keeping unnecessary papers and information, as this can lead to clutter and decrease productivity.
7. Not backing up your computer
People often forget to back up their data and end up losing important information. It’s not a question of if your hard drive will fail, it’s when! Ensure that your backup system is secure, automated, and remote in case of fire or disaster. Several reasonably-priced services like Backup Help or iBackup can help you securely store your information and provide peace of mind.
Organizing your home office and workspace doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By avoiding these common information-organizing mistakes, you can make the process much more manageable and efficient. Remember to separate out paper that requires action from information that only needs to be kept for possible future needs, have a standard contact management system, invest in quality filing supplies, deal with information on a regular basis, have a secure home for your passwords, know how long to keep papers, and back up your computer regularly. Maintaining a clutter-free and organized workspace will not only save you time and energy, but it can also increase productivity and reduce stress.