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Ask Dan
Q.
I'm often on the road, and consequently, my office is an unholy mess. What are some tips for helping me get organized?

A.
There is only one thing worse than leaving a messy office, and that's returning to one. The solution to this chaos starts with the wisdom of the old saying, "A place for everything, and everything in its place." But to accomplish that, you'll need to follow a few simple steps.

First, commit to an uninterrupted time to get yourself organized, such as an afternoon, an evening, or even a weekend. Once you've set aside this time, invest in a sufficient amount of physical containers, from file folders to bookcases, where you'll be able to store everything necessary.

Next, while you're arranging your papers, documents, and other items in these containers, take advantage of this opportunity to toss anything you really don't need.

Once you've neatened up your office, the next step is to keep it uncluttered. When new items come across your desk, sort them based on the kind of action needed, such as forward to others, read and respond later, or take immediate action. Place these items in separate files based on the action that they require, and review them at the end of the day to monitor your progress and get a head start on the next day if possible. Tick off your progress on a checklist, as that will give your newly acquired habits visual and positive reinforcement. By sticking to this regimen, you'll clean up your act in no time. E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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