I'm back after my month long reprieve from work (yeah right!). I actually felt my days were longer and more complicated than working! The month of July for me was catch up time...doing the things I haven't gotten around to in the last, oh 19 years!
One of my many projects goals was to organize some of the rooms, drawers, etc. in my house. This is something I actually do at work every couple of months, but I just don't seem to get around to it at home.
When business suddenly gets busy (and in real estate it's feast or famine), sometimes I'm caught off guard and not prepared for the influx of work.
A typical example is when I pull out the last form from the file cabinet without replenishing or, saving a really important form I created in an obscure place on my computer because I didn't have time to put it in the correct folder. So I spend 20 minutes of my precious time when I need it again trying to locate it in the black hole of my computer. Of course, I can't so I spend another 20 minutes re-writing the form/letter again! (Sound familiar?).
This stuff drives me crazy! I mean, I'm already swamped and yet I double my workload by not being prepared for the meltdown days!
So what are some of things I do to organize my desk when I have a little down time at the office?
The first item I start with is my computer
I create only 5-10 folders (categories) on my desktop to keep things neat and clean. For example;
Websites (Sites you use most often)
Escrows (Forms and letters)
Listings (Forms and letters)
Ads (For listings and company ads)
Employees (Goes without saying)
Company phone list (Agents in your office, title companies, carpet dudes, etc.). Create using an excel spreadsheet for faster access.
Personal (That really hot picture of me at my brother's wedding)
Misc. (Product information that I'm thinking of purchasing (see bobble head example below) but I don't know where else to put it.
Next I drop kick all the floating documents and links I've left in my documents folder, desktop, outlook, etc. into the appropriate folder listed above. This makes it much easier for me to locate stuff when I'm in a hurry. The rest of the junk I don't need or want anymore gets trashed. A GREAT idea is to add the location of the document in your computer directly on the form or letter. It will save you mounds of time looking for the illusive form or letter.
Then I pull out all pre-printed forms from my file cabinet, and check to see if anything needs to be corrected like an incorrect FAX number on a FAX sheet, or typo on an intake sheet. I locate the original document on the computer, make the corrections, save, than print out new copies for myself. If the form is something I don't use anymore, I'll save it in my computer under "archive" but toss out the copies.
The number of copies I print depends upon how often I use the form. Because my hubby Steve is constantly changing his mind about the forms...well form, I don't print more than a couple of month's worth. Also, I ALWAYS keep an emergency original in the folder with a sticky note that says "ORIGINAL DO NOT USE!" If I don't, I'll set myself up for a bad Kharma situation where I really, really need that form but low and behold, my computer/printer's down.
Once I've identified the pre-printed forms I need to have at hand, I create file sleeves with the name of the form on the tab and put in alphabetical order (Oh come on, you can do it!). Here's a hint for you lovelies that need access to multiple areas of the biz (listing, escrow, whatever info.) at your fingertips. File each section of the business separately. In my office, I have one drawer for escrows, another drawer for listings, etc. It's saves time riffling through multiple folders to find the form I want.
OK, the paperwork is in order. Now let's take a look at Winforms, the desktop/internet program used for writing contracts. I look over the templates I've created for listings and offers and make sure all the information is correct and the forms are up to date.
Wait...you haven't created templates?!
If you do nothing else, create templates for your software! This will save you countless hours of time. Come on! You usually type in the same stuff for most clients anyway. Your listing template should include not only the listing agreement contract, but also all the disclosures that are required for a listing.
Make sure you have enough of the hardware, baby. Paperclips (I only like the big kind), scissors, highlighter, sharpie, pencil, notepads, hole puncher, file folders, staple remover, etc.
Inventory your supply closet. Do you have enough paper and toner or will you run out at page 2 of the offer you and your seller have been anxiously waiting for?
Finally, go through that pile on your desk that you promised you would look at 2 years ago. Toss out what's not needed (like the info on the bobble head dolls with your likeness imprinted on the face for your clients that in a weak moment you thought might be "cute") and file or create folders for those items you want keep.
Having an organized desk/office will save you valuable seconds when you're swamped and prevent you from pulling your hair out and screaming, "Why is it when I'm always busy, I run out of stuff or can't find it?!!!"
Can you think of any other helpful ideas to organize a workspace?