"I need help getting organized, but where do I start?"

by Dr. Laura Aridgides

There is a common theme among many networkers. They start their businesses on the side, often working around a job and family obligations. They may put their initial starting materials in a corner or closet. There is no space dedicated to business. But then, their businesses grow. The networker is seeing more prospects. There are more appointments and more people to follow up with. Suddenly the corner or closet is no longer doing the job.

Everyone needs an actual space for their business, and yes, you can use a corner or a closet, as long as it is set up correctly to allow for expansion and organization of business contacts and other materials. Many times networkers have reached the point where they know that organization is needed, but they don't know where to start.

In my coaching business, I like to give visual results first. If someone can see progress, they are more likely to continue working toward that goal. So, if organization is the goal (and every good networker needs to have at least some level of organization in their business as a solid foundation to success), then I like to start in an area that gives visual results.

Because of this, I often tell my clients to start with the actual office space. Ask yourself, "Do I have an area reserved for business only?" If not, that is step number one. Dedicate a space only for business. It doesn't have to be large, but it does need to be out of the flow of traffic in your home, and functional. I know many successful networkers who turn a closet into their office space, or the corner of a room (just make sure it is not in the middle of high activity areas).

Every office space needs the basics—a desk, comfortable chair, phone, computer and printer, and file cabinet. Now, where to put everything?

I want you to visualize your office space as a bull's eye. Visualize your desk as the center of the bull's eye. This is your red zone. The red zone is everything that is within an arm's reach for you as you are sitting at your desk. And, within the red zone is your "prime real estate", which is your actual desktop area. The only items that are allowed in the red zone are items that you will use daily. It's also fine to have a few sentimental items (especially a picture of your goal!) in your red zone. In my red zone, I have my computer, phone, printer, and filing cabinet.

Beware of the "prime real estate" area! This is reserved only for things that you MUST have on your desktop. Perhaps you use a pen every day, but it would be better stored in a drawer within your red zone. Try to keep the desktop clear from all clutter at all times. Clutter on your desktop drains your energy and it is harder to sit down and focus on working your business when you look around and there are piles of paper everywhere.

Moving out from the red zone, you will enter the yellow zone. This area is reserved for items that you will use weekly or at least several times a month. You will have to get up from your seat to reach an item in the yellow zone. In my yellow zone is my shredder and my "In" basket, where items are put that need my attention.

Lastly, you will move out to the green zone. This is where you will store items that are not used very frequently—perhaps once a month or less. To access items in the green zone, you will have to get up and walk away from your primary office space. My green zone is mostly downstairs in a storage closet, far away from my desk area. I also have a bookcase that is across my office area that I would consider my green zone as well. In the green zone, I have books, and papers that are filed and would be considered "reference" material (such as customer receipts, taxes, etc.). These items are organized neatly within banker's boxes, so that I can find anything within two minutes, if needed.

So, where to start? Start with your office space. Assign the zones and evaluate every item. Does it belong in the zone you found it in? Does it belong in your office space at all? How often do you use the item? Do you even need to keep the item? Be ruthless and purge your office space so that it contains only what needs to be there, and then be sure to put those items in their correct area. This ensures maximum productivity when you sit down to work.

Want to know more of my organization secrets and strategies? Over my 11 years in business, I have simplified the process of creating systems, getting organized and becoming a master of time management. Tune in to my webinar to learn my top 10 organization strategies, 7 secrets to saving time, and several systems that I use in my business to help streamline and simplify which will help you increase productivity and profit in your business!

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