Some Helpful Post Tax Season Tips!

Ah, a breath or fresh air...Busy season is nearing its end and that means a time to relax and enjoy spring...Not so fast. Can you see the surface of your desk? Do you have papers on the floor, in piles on your desk, everywhere in your office? April 13- 19 is National Organize Your Files Week. So set aside some time over the next month to clean out your files and office.

Set aside a specific amount of time for the office cleaning task. Rather than trying to squeeze the job in between phone calls, designate specific time for this job. Consider scheduling the time on your calendar so that you'll be sure not to be interrupted. If your work will be performed more efficiently in a clean and organized space, then the time you spend cleaning up will be a worthwhile part of your workday.

Have organization aids handy when you begin the job. File folders, labels, pens, a wastebasket, storage boxes, your calendar, and other tools will be useful when you begin sorting the items in your workspace.

Work with a clear space. If you plan to organize your shelves, empty the shelves, then sort the items as you place them back on the shelves. This works better than trying to organize the shelves while they are still full. The same goes for your desktop, desk drawers, and any other cluttered space that you plan to attack.

Once you've got your workspace organized in a manner that will allow you to work efficiently and productively, keep it that way! Designate a specific time each day - just a few minutes is all it will take - to return your workspace to its organized condition. Get re-organized right after lunch for a fresh start on the afternoon, do a clean sweep again before you leave at the end of the day so your work area will be clean and ready for you first thing the next morning. Or take advantage of a mid-afternoon drowsy spell to get up on your feet and pick up after yourself.

Eileen Roth of "Everything in its Place" in Scottsdale, AZ, is a professional organizer and corporate trainer. She is also the author of Organizing For Dummies®.

Here are some of her suggestions:

  1. Purge your files by doing a group of files at a time or set aside a set amount of time each day to purge, i.e., half an hour a day. When you finish with that day’s purging, place a colored piece of paper standing upright in front of the next file to be purged. The paper will bend as you open and close the file drawer, but will still mark your place to begin again the next time.

  2. Organize your files by categories instead of alphabetically. Only files that have proper names (i.e., client or vendor files) should be filed alphabetically. It's too easy to forget if you filed the car as "auto", "car" or "Ford", and too easy to create duplicate files with the alphabetical system.

  3. Be sure to put folders inside of hanging files. The hanging files are merely place holders to tell you where to put the file folders; they should not come out of your file drawer. Loose papers inside of a hanging file get lost or crushed.

  4. Label the file folders with either typed labels or use a label maker. It’s time consuming, and often difficult, to read handwritten file labels.

  5. Use colored tabs and colored folders to help distinguish different types of files. Many people choose green for financial files. You should choose colors that make sense to you. You will also find that it's easier to find files in your cabinet or on your desktop if they are in color.

As a professional organizer and speaker, Eileen Roth is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), the National Speakers Association (NSA), and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). Contact Eileen Roth at Everything in its Place®, Scottsdale AZ (602) 788-4141, or visit the website:

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