How To Maintain an Organized Office

Your office can go from this…

Clients often ask me why their office doesn’t stay organized. My response is always the same: office organization, like any other type of organization, requires upkeep. Upkeep is described as “E” in the SPACE system. “E” stands for Equalize, which is the maintenance required to keep the system working once the organizing project is complete. Like paperwork, email, calendar management, or any other task, organizing is not a one and done thing. It requires regular work to maintain.

As a reminder, SPACE stands for Sort (like with like) Purge (unneeded, unused, unwanted items), Assign a Home (figure out where items will live) Contain (prevents one group of items from negatively impacting another group of items) and E (Equalize.)

I also use the SAVE process to create organizing systems. The best organizing systems, and those that last the longest, employ Simplicity, Accessibility, and Visibility, Every day. 

Both strategies can be utilized to organize your workspace.

…to this!

So, how do you maintain an organized office?

First, SPACE your workspace. SPACE everything – the desks, the drawers, the shelves, your file system, and, if it’s used as storage, the floor.

  • Set a timer for 15-20 minutes, and then do as much as possible in the area in which you’re working.
  • Establish your decision matrix. If something is broken, out of date, no longer relevant, makes the office look cluttered (say, excessive décor), or you otherwise do not love, use, or need it, consider downsizing it.
  • But, do be aware of any industry compliance issues when downsizing. Industry compliance applies mostly to documentation but can apply to other things as well.
  • Remember that sometimes documents need to be kept even if there is not an immediate (or potentially ever) use for them.

Once an area is SPACE’d, set up Zones.

  • Determine which type of work happens where and set up zones to facilitate this.

Use the ‘Fingertip Method’.

  • Items used regularly should be within reach so you don’t have to get up to retrieve them.
  • This includes writing implements, a stapler, phone stand, scissors, tissues, places for coffee or teacup and water, Post It notes, a note pad and your To Do box. And of course your desktop or laptop, or both.
  • Items not needed on a regular basis can be stored elsewhere.

That takes care of your physical space. The final step to maintaining an organized office is organizing your virtual desktop. A cluttered desktop reduces productivity because it takes longer to find what you need. It may even render the search function less productive.

  • Use the same principles to organize your virtual desktop that you use for your physical desktop.
  • SPACE each file, downsizing items you no longer need, want, or use.
  • Then place the remaining files into organized folders.
  • Consider setting up a File Index so you know where items are located.
  • Do this in small chunks of 15-20 minutes on a regular basis to avoid build up.

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. is a productivity expert and Certified Professional Organizer. Contact Lisa if you would like to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

How to Boost Income Through the Gig Economy

In today’s economy, side gigs provide a way to increase income. The trick is finding the right gig for you and your schedule. Here’s some advice from our guest blogger, Amy Collett, to help you get started.

What Is the Gig Economy?

As technology develops and changes the way we communicate, it is also drastically changing the way many people work. In the modern gig economy, companies including TaskRabbit, Uber, Rover, and Fiverr use custom apps to help skilled contract workers connect with the people who need them. These types of gig opportunities are often referred to as the “sharing economy,” the “collaborative economy,” and the “freelance economy.”

The gig economy provides the opportunity to utilize one’s skills and resources to create a career that works for you. Many people find that working freelance provides the flexibility needed to balance home and work. Gig opportunities may also provide enough money to get by while pursuing your entrepreneurial passion. The popularity of the gig economy is so vast, an estimated 57 million freelancers contribute 4 trillion dollars each year. Many people find that freelance work leads to launching a new business.

Find your Gig

Start by deciding which platform works best for you. The platform you choose is largely determined by the services you wish to provide. Sites like Upwork (link here?) are great because they connect you with potential clients looking for cost-efficient solutions for limited-run projects.

You can also drive for rideshare companies like Uber, Lyft, and Via, or work with animals by dog-walking and pet-sitting.

Tips for Gig Success

Instilling discipline and organization into your gig life will increase your odds of success. Consider doing the following:

  • Build a personal brand. Use the same design elements (fonts, images, usernames, etc.) across all platforms.
  • Differentiate your services from your competitors’ services in a way that stands out.
  • Stay organized. When you prioritize what you need to accomplish, you won’t have to scramble to do something that accidentally fell off your radar.
  • Consider using software for invoicing and expense tracking, website creation and to automate your social media posts.
  • Learn ways to de-escalate situations with difficult customers so you’re equipped to defuse any problems. With most gig platforms, your performance is rated. A high rating means more hires and a better asking wage.
  • Try to find unique ways to care for your customers that will leave a lasting impression.
  • Keep records of all work-related expenses. It’s easier to do this as you go along than to attempt to recreate your financials at the end of the year.
  • Determine whether you need a business license before you start working. Research state laws to ensure you are in compliance.  

Make Your Business Official

Once your gig turns profitable, you may decide it’s the perfect time to start your own business. Business structures vary from state to state, so be sure to check the laws in your area.

The gig economy provides an opportunity to gain income while crafting a flexible schedule. For the best experience, find a gig that appeals to your interests and skills. If it’s a good fit, you may be able to build a steady income and start a new business.

Amy Collett helps people develop their own personal brand. For more information, please visit bizwell.org.

How To Create Task Zones for Office Efficiency

Many articles on creating office zones focus on zone usage for many people, such as collaboration zones to brainstorm with others, quiet zones for concentration, deep work zones for important project work, and private zones for breaks & non-business tasks.

Although it can be helpful to have these types of zones in a large office employing many people, this blog post talks about Task Zoning. Task zoning adds to productivity by establishing dedicated spaces within your own work area to get more done more effectively.

Effective Task Zones are deeply customized for each individual for optimum work performance. What works for one person may not work for another.

Below are the Task Zones that work for me.

  1. The ‘To Do’ Zone. This zone contains important work which needs to be completed. This includes both soft and hard copy items of tasks. Many of these tasks are administrative – bill pay, financials logging, tracking mileage, sending out contracts to potential clients, managing team projects, and managing email. Other examples of items in my ‘To Do’ Zone include upcoming project notes, important notes from colleagues, and a comprehensive To Do list. Because I’m only about 80% paperless, my ‘To Do’ zone includes information in hard copy along with the relevant soft copy documents, organized just enough, but not too much, according to how I use and retrieve them.

    My ‘To Do’ zone includes a hard copy of my To Do list, hard and soft copies of upcoming team projects, with dates, participating staff, and notes, and a Post It note with reminders of upcoming tasks that absolutely, positively, have to be done within the next week.

  2. The ‘Deep Work’ Zone. This zone enables the critically necessary deep work that keeps us in business – in my case, project items. While much of my work consists of items in the ‘To Do’ Zone, the ‘Deep Work’ zone is the work that makes up the most important part of business.

    My ‘Deep Work’ zone is almost completely dedicated to work projects. My work projects include Action Plans for current and potential clients, developing new products and services, implementing new business processes & creating new courses to teach colleagues and clients.

  3. The ‘When I Have Time’ or ‘Aspirational’ Zone. This zone is dedicated to long term projects that require a lot of time and effort. These are the things that should be done, and that would behoove me to do, but that require so much time and effort that I may never get to them. Because I don’t want to lose track of them, I keep them here.

    Items in my ‘Aspirational’ Zone include complex marketing strategies I’m thinking about implementing, engaging a video team to produce a marketing video of an organizing project, writing a book (who isn’t?), deep reading on new organizing topics and strategies for special populations with whom I’m not as familiar as I’d like to be, and obtaining additional industry certifications. These are all things I want to keep track of but do not currently have time to address. I may never have time to address these, but on the off chance I do, they are all in my ‘Aspirational’ Zone just waiting for my attention.

  4. The ‘Supplies’ Zone. This is a small but functional corner on the desk where often-used supplies are kept. I call these ‘fingertip’ supplies – I keep them at my fingertips so that they are available when needed. These can be replenished as necessary so you never run out.

    Examples of items kept in the ‘Supplies’ Zone: several pads of Post It notes in all colors, for on-the-spot note jotting, a large square of pull off notes with my business logo for on-the-spot bigger note jotting, pens and pencils, scissors, stapler, box of tissues, mobile phone stand for FaceTime calls, bowl of hard candies, water bottle, and my trusty laptop.

I find that dividing my desk space into these four zones aids my productivity by allowing me to track what needs to be done, and when, and with whom, whether it is a current project, administrative background work, or aspirational. You, too, can set up zones customized to your available space and how you work.

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. is a productivity expert and Certified Professional Organizer. Contact Lisa if you would like to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

Office Space Planning: Where to Start

Most business owners spend a LOT of time in the office. Office spaces that are easy to navigate, designed strategically, and well set up increase the chances of worker collaboration, productivity, and business success. Below are four tips to enhance office planning and setup.

  1. Strategize. Figure out where things will go, what the budget is, and who key decision makers are. Ask yourself what’s working, what tasks are difficult and why, and which tasks are most frequent. Then build your office space around these constraints and considerations. Strapped for space? Consider smaller work areas. Need more storage? Use wall space to increase storage options. Does your business scan a lot of documents? Place the scanner in an accessible area to make frequent scanning easier.

  2. Collaborate. To increase the likelihood of success and cooperation among workers, create spaces that enable people to communicate effectively. Open spaces work if there is sufficient storage and workspace.    Where possible, consider open desk areas instead of cubicles, soothing colors instead of jarring colors, and ergonomic chairs or standing desks to make it easier to work for long periods.

  3. Ascertain. Determine which tasks are the most important and most frequent and build your office space around them.  Have a lot of paperwork? Ensure there is enough space to catalog it all for easy use and retrieval. Use a lot of plans that are difficult to see on a computer screen? Ensure sufficient flat space is available to work on these. Deal with a lot of email? Have sufficient online storage and backup processes in place. Use a lot of supplies? Build in storage options to keep these tucked away but easy to get to.

  4. Reduce. Nothing is more distracting or difficult to work in than an office space filled with unused and unwanted items. Spaces that are cumbersome, overfull, and difficult to navigate detract from worker success. Don’t have a use for something? Don’t like something? Don’t have room for something? Sell it, donate it or otherwise remove it from the space.

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. is a productivity expert and Certified Professional Organizer. Contact Lisa if you would like to find out if she is a good fit for your organizing or productivity needs.

How to Make Virtual Organizing Work for You

Virtual organizing is done via a remote work session between organizer and client. Communication is generally via video conference platforms like Skype or Zoom and may occasionally be done via phone as well. 

With virtual organizing, clients get the same teaching, guidance, and support of a hands-on organizing appointment. Virtual organizing also enables clients to access organizers outside of their geographical area, which may increase the availability of organizing services in a busy market. Finally, because virtual organizing appointments are generally shorter than hands-on appointments, it may be possible to obtain a virtual organizing appointment sooner than a hands-on organizing appointment.

During virtual organizing, the organizer provides the guidance and support necessary to accomplish the organizing project while the client puts the plan into action. Virtual organizing is less about doing the hands-on work and more about using the organizer’s experience, education and knowledge to help the client implement the organizing systems. During COVID, virtual organizing services have skyrocketed.

To determine whether virtual organizing is right for you, ask yourself the following questions.

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How To Choose the Right Organizer or Productivity Consultant: Part 3 – Personality

Lisa Mark, C.P.O. Coaching a Client

In last month’s blog post, we discussed how to ensure your productivity consultant has the right qualifications. This month’s blog post addresses what personality traits to look for when hiring a productivity consultant.

  • Identify her problem-solving skills. A good productivity consultant not only has strong problem-solving skills but also can explain why she’s doing what she’s doing. She can see the big picture without losing sight of the details. She’ll be able to identify your goals, create a plan of action, and then work with you to get to where you want to be.
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How To Choose The Right Organizer or Productivity Consultant: Part 1 – Client Goals

You’ve made the decision to move forward with a professional organizer and productivity consultant. Below are my top three tips to ensure that the odds of success are as high as possible when working with a productivity professional.

1. Determine your Level of Involvement

Decide how involved you, as the client, would like to be. Client involvement spans the spectrum from involved at every step of the way to only participating as needed. The level of involvement depends on the client’s wishes, and organizers who know what they’re doing can work with clients at all levels of participation.

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3 Ways To Streamline Processes

A process is a series of repetitive activities or linked tasks which occur in a specific order and end when a service or product is provided to a client. Streamlining processes makes things simpler and more efficient and leads to improvement in operations. The benefits to streamlining processes include minimizing costs, diminishing or eliminating lost time, and reducing wasted resources. Streamlining can also lead to increased engagement, efficiency, and communication.

To streamline processes, start by doing the following:

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How Changing Your Office Layout Can Increase Productivity

By Kristie Santana

Kristie Santana is a life coach, coaching educator, and author who has been in the coaching field for 15 years. Her latest project, Life Coach Path, aims to help educate and empower students to find coach training and start thriving coaching practices of their own.


Workspace design can arguably date back to the Roman era, but we know that when the first office building of the British Empire was constructed in 1726 in London, the architect had to design meeting rooms and spaces that could hold massive amounts of paperwork. Workplaces were very much about functionality and practicality, with little thought given to the employee. 

Fast forward nearly 300 years, and the pendulum has swung the other way. Global conglomerates like Google believe the workspace emanates an ‘energy’ and must be designed meticulously to support the mental health of their employees. At their New York headquarters, every employee is within 150 feet of an indoor restaurant, cafeteria or lounge. They firmly believe in ‘collision spaces’ where employees are encouraged to chat, dine, and drum up inspiration. 

Now, you may not be able to install a full-service restaurant in your office, but making a few changes could help increase office productivity and promote mental wellness.

Light it Up

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