Organizing is by its very nature an individual oriented task. While there are general principles and guidelines to be followed, such as filing alphabetical or numerical, an organizing system is based on what works for you.
Organizing: A Case Study
At the beginning of the year, a San Francisco attorney called my office requesting assistance in organizing her legal office. Her office was simply not functioning effectively. She was spending so much time looking for documents that her practice was not growing as it was capable of doing.
The Paper Chase
Many businesses and entrepreneurs can relate to what I found upon entering her office . . . papers everywhere, in file cabinets, on desks, on shelves, on the copier, pouring out of boxes and all over the floor. This business professional had hit the "I don't know what to do with all this paper" stage in her business.
The Pile Method
We started demystifying the chaos by separating the client files into piles so that each client's paperwork, court orders, exhibits, depositions, etc. were in the same location. Piles work for some individuals, but not for those with numerous clients. If the attorney is working on several cases for the same client, the piling method will not do.
The Gross Sort
Standing and looking at all the client piles, we determined which client cases were the most active and had close deadlines. Those client files became the top priorities for designing an organized system.
Beginning with the highest priority client file, the attorney and I separated the pile of paper into categories and subjects. Guiding the attorney to develop these categories was fairly painless since the legal field nomenclature is fairly standard throughout a given specialty area. Other businesses are not always as straight forward.
One of Many Solutions
Working with the attorney, I developed a system of colored file pockets and special classification folders for her client files. Following a very simple index that we developed together, she is able to put documents into the proper category in the correct client file. More importantly, she is able to retrieve the necessary documents quickly and easily.
The system that my client and I devised works well for her and fits in with her method of operation. This particular system may not work for any other attorney because organizing is as personal and individual as each person is. Of course, if several people are using the same materials, then the system must be according to a set of procedures that everyone follows. But that's another discussion.
Don't Agonize . . . Organize, today.
Strategic Organizing Solutions - SOS provides consultation and hands-on professional coaching, customized organizing and information management to businesses and individuals. Services include office and residential organizing with an emphasis on desktop management, information and paper management, computer organization, clutter control and project. For more information, please call (707) 425.4SOS (4767).