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Odette Pollar

It is time to become
organized. Here is how
to get started


Do you find yourself moving through stacks of papers on your desk in search of a document you were holding only a moment ago? Are you at a loss to find a place to put all the correspondence that comes your way? And do you ever wonder where you filed that important letter?

Divide Work Areas

Start with a plan to put your office in shape. Divide your work area into sections: your primary desk, your bookcase, credenza, second desk or computer work station, and your files. Organize one area at a time. Decide about what information, materials and supplies you use most frequently. Those should be closest to you, while less-used items can be stored elsewhere. Break the cleaning and organizing project into steps that easily fit in with your work schedule.

Throw out as much as possible. Materials to toss include outdated versions of manuals and catalogs, extra copies of documents, information you never use and papers you did not even know were there.

If you use reference manuals infrequently, send them to a central resource area for your work unit. Move information you do not need now but that retains historical value to a central storage area. Be ruthless about making save and toss decisions. Throw it out if: it is a duplicate; it is no longer relevant; the information is readily available elsewhere; or you do not have time to read it.

Group Into Categories

Organize the remaining items. Group together items that fall into broad categories, such as reference manuals, company information, vendor catalogs and reports. This will enable you to go to one shelf and quickly find related items.

Sort your files by use. If you touch them every three to four weeks, they can remain. If you use them less, banish them to your unit's central filing system. Keep in mind that a study by Stanford University found that 87 percent of filed paper is never looked at again.

Label each file with a broad heading that covers all the papers inside. When you find more than one file with related information and it will not be too cumbersome, place all the materials in one folder. Use nouns for file headings; for example, mailing list, budget, newsletters, printing. These are broad categories that allow for flexibility. Avoid starting a label with an adjective - the, or, an - or with a number. When trying to retrieve a document you will think first of what it concerns usually, not the date it took place.

Anything that stays on your desk must be used regularly. Place knickknacks, family photos, clocks and souvenirs on a shelf or side table instead of your desk, where they take up valuable space and create a visual distraction. Limit personal items such as toiletries, a spare pair of shoes or an umbrella to one special drawer. Such items as a calendar, paper clips, stapler, pens and pencils can also go into a drawer. By keeping the desk surface as free of clutter as possible, you lessen the probability of losing or misplacing papers and make it easier to focus on high-priority items.

Declare War on Paper

Launch your attack on paper by going through the stacks from the top, down and sort into five categories: immediate action, low priority, reading material, to file, or to discard.

With each piece of paper, ask, "What's the worst thing that could happen if I threw this away?" Unless the outcome is critical, toss it! Keep the "immediate action" stack on your desk in front of you. Put all else in appropriately labeled files making a note on your to/do list so you will not forget about it.

Develop Good Habits

1)  Decide on what to do with each piece of paper the first time you touch it and put it away immediately. 
2) Spend 15 minutes at the end of each day clearing your desk. 
3) When taking notes, write information on the correct document the first time, not on little pieces of paper, which are easily lost. 
4) Clear your" In-Box" at least once a day. 

Source: DayTimer Website


stacks of papers: piles, plenty of work papers (pilas de papeles de trabajo)
were holding: were having in your hands (tenías en tus manos)
are you at at a loss?: are you perplexed, amazed? (¿estás desconcertado/a, sin saber qué hacer?)
comes your way: appears in front of you (que
te cae)
do you ever wonder: ask yourself sometimes (te preguntas alguna vez)
filed: put away, kept in a file cabinet (archivaste)
in shape: in order, in good condition (en orden)
credenza: credence, a sideboard or buffet (mueble lateral)
supplies: paper clips, staplers, pens you use everyday (elementos, útiles de escritorio
closest: nearest (muy cercanas)
break: spit in, divide into (divide, separa)
into steps: in several procedures (en etapas)
throw out: remove (elimina,
to toss: to throw away (a descartar)
outdated versions: versins no longer in use, obsolete (versiones desactualizadas)

be ruthless about: don't have any mercy with (no sientas pena por)
broad: wide (amplias)
catalogs: seller catalogues (catálogos de los vendedores)
this will enable you: this will allow you (esto te permitirá)
sort: classify (clasifica)
label: put a label on (etiqueta, rotula)
cumbersome: difficult to handle (difícil de manejar)
when trying to retrieve: when you try to get or find back (cuando intentes recuperar)
knickknacks: small mass-produced articles (chucherías, adornitos)
take up
valuable space: absorb valuable space (ocupan lugar necesario)
stapler: a machine that inserts stales into sheets of paper in order to fasten them together (abrochadora)
lessen: reduce (reduces, disminuyes)
put it away: put it aside (hazlo a un lado)
clearing: making a way by removing objects which obstruct the place (despejando, haciendo lugar en)