Easy Office Organization Tips

As I revealed yesterday, my new cozy mystery ORGANIZED FOR MURDER will be released next Monday, February 24, 2014. And while many an early reviewer on GoodReads notes the novel’s great tips woven within a satisfying mystery, I’m using this blog to give some organization tips that readers won’t find within the covers of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]

The main protagonist, Kate McKenzie, has a small business named Stacked in Your Favor, and has office space carved out of a back bedroom in her home. At a couple of points in the book, the story takes readers into Kate’s office, and we learn a few of the little things she does to keep her office organized. But there are many more.

Since I’ve had a nonfiction writing business for about 15 years, I’ve tried a number of ways to keep my home office organized so I can stay on-track and in-the-black when it comes to my writing bottom-line. I’ve tried file cabinets–even have one that still pulls its weight on a regular basis, and my husband has built me custom closet shelves (thank you, sweetheart) that meet, and thanks to his ideas actually exceed, my original expectations. But those are both big items that take a lot of space and planning, and there are several smaller, low cost ways to keep an office organized.

Mostly, I hate to look for things, and here are some of the ways I keep from having to deal with that pet peeve, ideas to use that work in smaller, less defined space. So if your office is part of the dining room, or even a confiscated walk-in closet, these tips will help keep the organization level High and allow the stress level from not being able to find things to remain Low.

My first tip for today is 3-Ring Notebooks. The second is Post-It Notes. The third is Colors. And here’s how all three of those things work together:

I use and reuse 3-ring notebooks all the time, and have every size and color to choose from. That five-drawer filing cabinet I previously mentioned is for the long-term, not-going-to-get-into-it regularly kind of stuff I need to keep handy. For current projects and information I use all the time, I stick with 3-ring notebooks for these reasons:

  1. It’s easy to keep everything together.and to tab sections for easier reference. The bigger the project, the more parts there usually are to it. For every project I use the first tabbed section for my Contact sheet–a list of all the people I will contact or have contacted to complete this project, and when any new names and numbers are given to me during the project it’s easy to find the Contact sheet and document the information.
  2. Notebooks are pros at standing on the floor near my feet, to be ready to grab as I’m writing on my computer. Unlike file folders, most of my project notebooks stand up easily on their own, need no bookshelf–though one can be easily used if you have the space. If I’m using a particularly skinny binder all I have to do is prop it against the desk or table leg.
  3. I have all the project material ready to grab and go if I need to work with it on the run.
  4. I can “color code” my projects easily, always using the same color notebook for whatever is the current “hot” project(s), and find all the coordinating notebooks in the same color if I need to divide a large project into more than one notebook. This is critical since life tends to make us have to work on a number of things all at the same time. Having a one color for each subject/project/task  means I only have to look for that color when I’m sweeping through the house looking for material. I even try to use the same color Post-It Notes, so I don’t have to even think to know which project a note on my wall or calendar relates to. I use black notebooks for material that stays in the same notebook all year, such as the ones for Invoices and Checks Received.
  5. I can use printable labels to mark both the front and the spine of the notebook for easier visibility, then when the project is completed and the notebook is emptied for the next project I just peel the old labels and add new ones.
  6. Because the material all stays organized as the project progresses, when it does come time to unload the notebook(s) and file the material, that’s a snap. I use the tabbed dividers in the notebook to determine how many file folders I need for archival purposes, and label the folders accordingly. For projects that don’t need to be filed into folders, just kept for a short time for archival need, I simply recycle my nifty ‘saved’ Amazon boxes by loading the pages into their new cardboard home, tape up the top, and mark the contents in black marker on the outside–if I know a “destroy date” I add that on the outside, too. Since the notebook kept everything in order, the contents now remain organized in the Amazon box.
  7. Notebooks go on sale each year around the time school starts, so I always know I can stock up at a discount (and on my favorite Post-It products, too). After school starts, I often find notebooks on discounted tables in office supply stores, as well, so keep your eyes open.

That’s my tip of the day for office/project organization. Feel free to leave tips of your own in the comments section.

One more savings is that to tie to the run-up of the release for ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, my publisher has set the price on the first book in my other series COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES at a one-week bargain price of 99 cents. You can find it on all ebook formats (that’s what’s on special) or in print at all on line booksellers. Click the page above marked Here’s Where To Buy My Books to find clickable links.

And come back tomorrow for more organization tips 🙂

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About ritterames

Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Bodies of Art Mysteries and the Organized Mysteries series. When she’s not writing or brainstorming new mysteries, Ritter is usually trying to get her favorite blond Labrador retriever to stay out of the pond, or keep her grouchy black cat from trying to give the dog away on Freecycle. The first two books in her Bodies of Art series were released in early-2016 by Henery Press, and the third was released October 11, 2016. She's currently working on the first book in a new series.
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