Overwhelmed by office clutter?
Expert explains how to prioritize and manage the flow of old-fashioned, low-tech ‘stuff’ in the digital age
New York, NY – July 20, 2011 – Sure, most of us rarely put pen to paper on the job these days, but we’re still drowning in files, folders, and reports.
Even in the digital age, we’re hanging on to too much stuff, says one expert, who suggests a few simple strategies to stay ahead of the information avalanche.
“In today’s workplace, we’re all victims of information overload, and that can be a real drain on time and energy,” says career expert and corporate navigator Amanda Mitchell.
“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ‘stuff’ that piles up: dozens of file folders, an overflowing desk inbox, bookcases and cabinets crammed with reports and briefs. The result is a chaotic environment.”
Mitchell, founder of Our Corporate Life, says the problem is that high achievers tend to hold on to every scrap of info and can easily lose focus by focusing on, well, everything.
“All piles represent postponed decision-making, no matter how organized you are,” says Mitchell, “and delayed decision-making creates the feeling that you’re constantly behind. Ultimately, that perception can become self-fulfilling.”
Mitchell offers these tips to deal with the info chaos:
Reduce the amount of information coming in. Set boundaries to keep information from reaching you in the first place. Make sure you’re cc’d only on information you really need to know. Unsubscribe from industry publications no longer relevant or useful to you.
Schedule time each week to deal with each piece of paper you come across. If you’re stumped, give yourself a “free pass” just once. If you don’t know what you want to do with the item the next time you see it, toss it—it’s just taking up your time/energy.
Make quick decisions on information. For instance, open your mail over the recycle/waste basket and sort through it to see what deserves your attention. Throw out or remove anything that doesn’t support you in your work or goals.
When traveling, use post-it notes to label brochures, hand-outs and other info as you pick them up. When you’re back in the office, you already know what decision you’ve made about the item. Or, bring several envelopes labeled by project or area of expertise to sort as you go. Whatever works for you is fine—just make sure you’ve got a plan to handle the information you’re gathering.
“If you’ve put the right boundaries in place and are vigilant about immediately dealing with what’s coming in, soon you’ll make peace with your environment and you can focus on what’s really important to you,” says Mitchell.
The key is to have the strength to say “no.”
“We’ve been told for years there are only four things you can do with information: act on it, file it, delegate it, or toss it,” says Mitchell. “It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s possible to achieve once you’ve decided to take control of your work and the paperwork that comes with it.”
About Amanda Mitchell and Our Corporate Life
Amanda Mitchell is the founder of Our Corporate Life LLC (www.ourcorporatelife.com), a company that offers a new system for reducing unnecessary workplace suffering caused by the organizational, interpersonal, and ethical issues of our time. Our Corporate Life is founded on the belief that adhering to core human values and achieving business success are always compatible, a belief crystallized during her corporate career each time she witnessed a company sacrifice profitability by wasting human capital. Subscribe to the Our Corporate Life® biweekly ezine (www.ourcorporatelife.com/subscribe) for tips on how you can thrive in the workplace.