Eliminate Office Clutter for Better Results

SCOREThis article is provided by the Greater Scranton Area SCORE chapter.

Office clutter tends to grow like weeds or mold. But it’s not just damaging to your business aesthetics. Excessive clutter makes your business less productive and less profitable. Maybe organizing isn’t your strong point, but eliminating clutter and getting your business better organized should still be a high priority, especially if things are starting to get out of hand.

Despite the operating efficiencies that technology has brought to businesses large and small, the need for paper lives on. Chris Perrow is a professional organizer who deals daily with the negative impact that office clutter has on small companies.

According to Perrow, most business owners are on information overload, working long hours without thinking much about simple productivity issues of how and why things get done. “When they stop to analyze the situation, they often find much could be delegated, eliminated or done at a more efficient time,” she says.

The key to eliminating clutter and improving results through greater organization is to have a system in place to keep things organized. Business owners often keep things they don’t need on the theory that “I may need this some day.”

Carol Halsey, an organizing coach based in Wilsonville, OR, suggests a five-step approach to dealing with office paperwork that she calls DRAFT, for Discard, Refer, Act, File and Table.

1)    Discard—If it’s something you’ll never retrieve again, trash it, don’t file it. Your files should be a “resource holding tank,” not a dead storage place.
2)    Refer—If someone else needs the information or can handle it for you, pass it along.
3)    Act—If it requires action by you, do it now. It’s inefficient to delay and handle the paper a second or third time.
4)    File—If it’s important and you will truly need it later, file it in a proper filing system that allows you to find things quickly.
5)    Table–If it’s something you’ll need in the near future (but not today), place it in a simple follow-up system for easy, quick access.

Better efficiency is something every business owner can achieve. Help is available from the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), a membership group of 2,700 organizing consultants, trainers, authors and product manufacturers. The Web site’s Automated Referral Program can help you find an organizing specialist in dozens of topics areas such as home, medical or legal offices. Visit the site at Organize Your Office by Ronni Eisenberg, File…Don’t Pile by Pat Dorff and the Office Clutter Cure by Don Aslett are three helpful and inexpensive books for under $10 each through

For additional planning help for your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”  SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners.  Call (570) 851.1608 or visit to contact the Greater Scranton Area SCORE Chapter.