Now that April 15th has passed, the pile on your desk is most likely smaller and your phone is hopefully no longer ringing off the hook. You may have found that during the busy months that you neglected routine office tasks, such as cleaning out your desk and organizing your office.
Here are four tips to get organized and start feeling like a human again:
1. Spend 15 minutes Each Day Organizing
Life as an accountant is never really slow. So even though you are no longer working 80 hours a week, you probably don’t have an entire day you can devote to decluttering. Pick your most unproductive time during the day, such as right after lunch or when you hit your 3 p.m. slump, and schedule 15 minutes on your calendar to spend organizing. Break down a large project into manageable sizes that can be done in a short time frame. Instead of trying to clean out your entire desk in afternoon, organize one desk drawer each day until your task is finished.
2. Declutter Your Desk Daily
When you look at a messy desk all day, it tends to make you feel disorganized, not to mention the time wasted looking for papers and office supplies that you could be serving clients. “If your desk has mounds of unorganized paper, chances are, it causes distraction and stress,” vice president of partner programs and channel sales at Sage, Jennifer Warawa.
Leslie Jacobs, professional organizer with Les is More, says that one of the best ways to reduce clutter is to address it daily. “Never leave your office with your desk a mess,” says Jacobs. Warawa also recommends reducing clutter on the top of your desk by putting any office supplies that you do not use daily in a drawer.
3. Tackle Your Hotspots
Every office has a place that just seems to attract clutter. Does a spare chair in the corner always seem to be piled with accounting reference books and odds and ends? Perhaps your printer cabinet seems to collect more than paper. Determine where clutter seems to accumulate in your office and what type of clutter it is. If books never seem to make it to your bookshelf, make a habit of putting all of the books back before you head to lunch. Or recycle your paper every Friday if your recycling box is always overflowing.
4. Don’t Forget About Your Email Inbox
Since most of us use email for communication instead of paper mail, many accountants find that having a cluttered inbox is just as distracting as a messy desk. “Keeping your inbox clean can be tough when you receive hundreds of emails a day, but keeping your inbox clear of all items that have been reviewed will help you achieve a sense of accomplishment, and will seem less overwhelming,” says Warawa. “Set the time each day to clean up your inbox, and file emails in folders by client name/issue for easy retrieval.” Many accountants find it easier to quickly clean out old email by sorting by name since you can often save time by deleting people you no longer do business with or solicitations in large groups instead of separately.