Cleanin' Out My Closet

Services for Real Estate Pros with

HousewifeI'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. 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? 



Comments (23)

April Hayden-Munson
Brookfield, WI
Brookfield Wisconsin Real Estate

You have some great tips here Diana.  The more organized you are - the more time you SAVE!

Aug 07, 2008 04:00 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Charlene from Michigan, Thanks for your comment. My butt needs kickin' too every once in a while!

April from Wisconsin, Your right, it's all about time management. The last thing I want to do is hanging around the office for one more minute than I absolutely have to...I usually have a date with my Cannondale rode bike right after work and don't want to be late! Thanks for your comments!

Aug 07, 2008 04:05 AM
Jackie -
770.498.7333 - Atlanta, GA
Learn to leverage technology to get more done.

Diana - great post - bookmarked. One thing I've learned to do with files I don't want to copy is write in yellow highlighter - ORIGINAL, do not copy. You can see it, but it won't come through.

Another timesaver (which I don't follow as often as I can), is to use the same names for my computer and hard copy files.

Aug 07, 2008 04:05 AM
Rebecca Schrader
Competitive Insurance of Dundee - Dundee, FL

Office "SPRING CLEANING" at its finest! Thanks for the post. It's hard to get organized, but once you get started, you don't want to stop until it's ALL done! It's a wonderful feeling!

Aug 07, 2008 04:11 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Rebecca from FLORIDA! I missed driving the Florida coast this year with my hubby Steve. But we'll be back next year for more fun and games. Thanks for your comment and good luck with your spring cleaning!

Jackie from Virtually Everywhere!Great idea with the yellow highlighter. I'm going to try it on my originals. And what a simple but effective way of combining hard copies with computer files. Where do I sign up for your next class, kiddo? Thanks for your comment!

Aug 07, 2008 04:21 AM
n d
Naoma Doriguzzi - Virginia Beach, VA

this is a great list for the unorganized...going back to work in a couple of weeks from maternity leave and will need to update and reorganize for sure!

Aug 07, 2008 04:44 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Naoma from Virginia! A new mom? I think your organizational skills far exceed mine. You'll have it wrapped up in 2 minutes, while on the phone, changing a diaper and preparing dinner. Congratulations-YOU ROCK! 

Aug 07, 2008 04:53 AM
Regina Lundeen
Delaware Association of REALTORS® - Rehoboth Beach, DE

Diana, you are right.  I spend a little time each week, tidying my drawers and restocking - especially those paper forms.  I am really bad about cluttering up my desktop on my computer.  I save everything there so I can find it especially when I am adding listings to websites.  I am trying out your desktop declutter strategy next clean up day.

Aug 07, 2008 07:49 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Regina from Delaware! Every week you clean up?! My hero! I have to admit when I'm busy I too toss everything onto my desktop. You should hear my systad. howl when he comes in to fix my computer!  Thanks for your comment!

Aug 07, 2008 08:12 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

OK, where are the manly man comments?! Did the picture scare them off?

Aug 07, 2008 08:14 AM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Oh I love it wehn I get things organized on my computer and my desk.  It just doesn't stay that way for long when I get busy.

Aug 07, 2008 08:33 AM
LS Rogers Realty
LS Rogers Realty - Richardson, TX

I never think of being organized until I don't have the time for it. Wonderful tips.

Aug 07, 2008 08:42 AM
Vicki Pedersen
Pedersen Real Estate - Riverside, CA
Providing Exceptional Real Estate Service

Thanks for the tips.  These are all helpful.  I definetely need improvement in this area.  When I really unorganized, I really feel it - this drowning feeling - then I'm forced to take the time (when I least feel I can) to get organized once again.  But alas it never lasts. 

Aug 07, 2008 09:05 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Joan from New Hampshire It does feel good when everything is organized! How can I not have a great day when my pencils are sharpened, drawer is organized and I have plenty of paperclips for the next round of craziness?  Bring it on, baby! Thanks for your comment!

Trunda from Texas Yeah funny how that works. I can think of great organizational ideas on the run, but heaven forbid if I don't write it down, I'll forget during the down time. Out of site, out of mind. Thanks for your comment!

Vicki from California I understand that feeling of being out of control. And it IS worse when you can't find stuff. Amazing how a little thing like organizing can make us feel so much better. Hmm, maybe this could be a cheaper alternative to therapy? Thanks for your comment!


Aug 07, 2008 09:20 AM
Stephanie McCarty
McCarty Homes - Canton, GA

Trying to stay "positive" I have set a goal of putting together 25 "listing" folders next week.   In the process now of gathering forms, updating, etc.   Yep, I'll be ready for the spring rush for everyone to satisfy their pent up buyer frustration.  Yippee, I can't wait!

Aug 07, 2008 11:19 AM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


I stopped by to thank you for commenting on my blog, and to congratulate you on your well-deserved feature!

Mike in Tucson

Aug 07, 2008 04:46 PM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Mr. Mike from AZ!What a sweetheart you are. Your kindness is truly appreciated-and you have a pretty cool blog too! Thanks for your comment!

Aug 11, 2008 10:50 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Miss Stephanie from GEORGIA! O my gawd, do you live near Paula Dean, my FAVORITE cooking show personality?

I love putting together listing folders! I also bless each one with holy water and sprinkle it with my magic fairy dust to ensure the transaction will be PERFECT!  Thanks for your comment!

Aug 11, 2008 10:53 AM
Stephanie McCarty
McCarty Homes - Canton, GA

Diane Turnbloom:   No, not very close to Paula - have visited Savannah and it's really difficult to get in her restaurant - long lines.

Yes, putting together listing folders. . .um. . .playing with paperwork or attending a closing. . .never mind, I forgot what to do at a closing.   Had an agent call on a listing today and she was asking if we were working any offers, etc. - I had to laugh.   I told her that if she wrote an offer (oh, please Lord let it be so), I would probably need to study it to refresh my memory before meeting with my seller!

Aug 12, 2008 05:10 AM
Diana Turnbloom - Martinez, CA
The Leading Expert in TC Services & Education

Stephanie, glad to hear NorCals not the only slowpokes in the real estate industry!

Aug 13, 2008 05:22 AM