Not everyone has their kitchen spices arranged in alphabetical order.  I haven’t felt the need to have the “alum” in the front of my spice area simply because it begins with “A”.  I probably won’t use it again until next fall when I make that specific recipe that calls for just one teaspoon of Alum – and by that time, it will probably be expired!

Your organizing style works best when it works in conjunction with your personality.  If a process or system that requires your attention, on a daily basis, is inconvenient – you should consider taking a second look at your system.

What am I talking about?  Let’s take a look at your office.  Does it really make sense to have a current client’s file – one that you are working in on a daily basis – tucked away in a filing cabinet that is clear across the room?  Personally, I don’t think so.  It should be located somewhere close to where you sit and work for that client.  Perhaps it is in a lateral filing system that allows you to have 8 files handy and within reach.   (I like these because I can see multiple files at one time).  If your client’s file has confidential information in it, this may change your strategy.  I would recommend that your client files be gathered and put into the very front of a filing cabinet so that they can be locked up in the evening.

Of course, it always really bugs me when I walk into a doctor’s office and I see piles of files stacked over an entire countertop, knowing that my personal information is in that file and that it is so easily accessible to anyone and everyone.  I don’t know what I can do about that…but I’m thinking about it!

Should your files be color-coded?  Should your cabinet have pull-out shelves?  What type of storage will work best for your situation?  When making these decisions, think about what makes the most sense.  Try not to get caught up in the  glitz and glamour of the new and “must haves” of organizing.  There are tons of possibilities to organize the exact same area.  But what will work best for you?

If your files will be color-coded be willing to spend the extra money for the color file folders and hanging folders.  This will also mean that your storage area may have to be organized in a different manner so that you can see all of your different colored file folders and hanging folders.  Does spending the extra money on this really make sense?  What you don’t want to happen is to start the system – and then not be able to maintain the system.  Instead of using the colored file folders, maybe you can use colored dots to identify your different type of clients or possibly use a different color of file label.  It really doesn’t matter, just as long as your system and process is quick, easy and maintainable.  You definitely don’t want to get stressed out when you think about the time and energy that it takes to make a new file!  Remember, time is money and there are probably 3 other things that you could be doing with your time.  The color of the file doesn’t determine your success!

Linda Clevenger, Consultant and Professional Organizer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Organization Direct