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6 Tips for Tracking Expenses When Traveling

6 Tips for Tracking Expenses When Traveling

Traveling for work is something that many of us will do at some point. While you are traveling for work it is especially important to keep track of all expenses so that you can account for your spending and receive proper reimbursement. Follow these simple guidelines to stay on top of your expenses while traveling for work:

  1. Create an email file folder for each trip. You’ll have a designated place holder for confirmation emails for your airline, hotel, car rental and MapQuest information you’ll need for appointments. It will be handy to refer to throughout your trip as well as when it comes time to turn in your expense report.
  2. Create a travel file to use while traveling for work. This can be as simple as a manila file folder, pocket folder or 5 x 7” envelope. Label it with the date, place and purpose of trip. I.E. June 4-9 Boston Sales Conference
  3. Keep your travel file in your briefcase, computer case or other traveling bag. Get in the habit of putting it in the same pocket every time you are traveling for work. This way you’ll always know where it is.
  4. At the end of the day, empty your pockets, briefcase, wallet and/or purse of all receipts. Make a note on each receipt that explains what it is for. Sometimes a receipt is pretty nebulous so include as many details as possible. These notes will only take a few minutes and will serve as a visual reminder weeks later when you’re trying to remember details for your expense report.
  5. Track everything. Restaurants, hotels and airfare are the easy ones. While traveling for work you also incur expenses from places like parking garages, coffee shops and taxis. Be sure to make note on your travel file for non-receipt items such as tips.
  6. Track your car miles. When traveling for work with your own vehicle, you may qualify for reimbursement. The easiest way to track your miles is to keep a mileage log in the door/console of your vehicle. You can purchase an official log book from your local office supply store or you can keep a pad specifically designated for this purpose in your car. Be sure to include the date, place traveled to, purpose of the meeting and total round trip mileage.

These tips are simple but provide a great method for tracking expenses while traveling for work.

By: Audrey Thomas

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Overcome Procrastination

procrastination

True confession: I procrastinated on writing this article on procrastination. The irony is funny, right? Actually, it is proof positive that we all procrastinate now and then; some more often than we’d like to admit. As a Productivity Consultant, I love to share my “human” moments with clients and workshop participants to show that I understand what they go through and have learned lessons along the way that I practice and teach to be more organized and productive.

We can define procrastination as the undesirable time gap between intention and action. I intended to write this article weeks ago, but didn’t get to it until last week because of competing priorities and, if I’m honest, because of my own perfectionist tendencies.

There are ten primary causes to procrastination:

Self-Control – someone who procrastinates because of self-control issues may be impulsive or be unable to prioritize.

Shiny Objects – email alerts, paper piles, interruptions, or other distractions can serve intentionally or unintentionally as avoidance factors, causing us to procrastinate on what we really ought to be doing.

False Beliefs – erroneously thinking, “I work better under pressure” makes some people put off tasks until the last minute. They may even pull it off and get the task done by the deadline, but it is often not the highest quality of work than if the task had been given more time.

Fear of Failure – If someone does not have the confidence that they can accomplish the task successfully, they may procrastinate, preferring to be seen as lacking in effort than in skills.

Thrill Seeking – some people enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies the last minute push to get something done “under the gun.”

Task Related Anxieties – avoiding the difficult, boring or undesired task. “I just don’t want to do it.”

Unclear Expectations – vague priorities or direction might lead to procrastination if you don’t know how to start or what steps to take to get the task done.

Depression – for someone who is experiencing clinical depression, it can be hard to get started on something new. It may feel overly difficult or pointless.

Punitive Parenting – an individual who was raised with highly critical parents may have messages running through their mind that they aren’t good enough and/or they fear additional criticism. Procrastination can be seen as a form of rebellion for these folks too.

Perfectionism – This is the #1 cause for procrastination. Perfectionism can be paralyzing to productivity. A perfectionist will put off starting something that they worry they can’t do perfectly and they will also put off finishing a task because it never seems “good enough.”

Employ these ten strategies to address each cause and combat procrastination:

Eliminate Distraction – clear clutter in your workspace, shut down email to get something done and remove shiny objects from your space.

Gain Clarity – ask questions (of yourself or someone assigning you a task or project) to better understand the objective of the task, as well as the recommended steps to get it done.

Eat an Elephant – Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time. If you feel overwhelmed by a project or task, break it down into bite size pieces. The end result may feel daunting, but each piece should feel very manageable by itself. If the bites still feel overwhelming continue to break them down until taking the first step, or the next step, by itself feels doable.

Stop Messing Around – Sometimes we just need some discipline to stop any avoidance strategies and buckle down to work. Know what you use as avoidance tasks (i.e.: Facebook, a trip to the water cooler, checking email again, etc.) and don’t let yourself indulge until you accomplish a task or reach a milestone in your work.

Establish Rewards – It can be motivating to have something to look forward to. Consider small ways you can reward yourself for staying on task for a period of time (this could be allowing yourself to participate in something that you previously used as an avoidance task – 15 minutes on Facebook, a call to a good friend, a walk around the block, cup of tea, etc.) and identify a bigger way to reward yourself for accomplishing the end result in a timely manner for larger projects. Consider the Pomodoro technique for working – stick to a task or project for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Alternately, work for 50 minutes in an hour and do something for yourself for 10 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

Block Time – Mark time on your calendar for priority tasks, and then honor it. Make appointments with yourself to work on something that you might otherwise put off. We are usually good at sticking to our appointments we make with others. We can do the same for important work we want to accomplish. When the appointment shows up on the calendar, no procrastinating; that is what you work on during that time block. Yes, some of this takes discipline, but you can do it.

Minimize Interruptions (or at least know how you’ll handle them) – If you have an office with a door, consider closing it when working on a priority task or project. Minimally, post something visible that tells others that you are “heads down” for a period of time. Eliminate the candy dish from your desk if it is the reason others constantly interrupt you to chat. If you are interrupted by a colleague, stand to greet them (so they don’t sit and make themselves comfortable for a while), ascertain what they need and then make a decision about whether or not their need is a higher priority than what you were working on. If it is, make a quick note on your work about the step you were about to do next (this reduces the time it takes you to recover from the interruption and reengage in the work) and give them your full attention. If what you are working on is a higher priority than what they need, let them know you are on a deadline and need to finish your work, and ask them to come back or meet up at a later time.

Adopt My Favorite “Recovering Perfectionist” Mantra; Done is Better than Perfect – Get started, even if you don’t think you can do something perfectly. Most of the time, perfect isn’t needed. Know when 90-95% is good enough. A perfectionist will spend 50% of their time on a task or project getting the last 5-10% perfect. That means if they spend an hour getting something 90% done, they will spend another hour perfecting the last 10%. Most of the time, there’s a better use for that time. Unless you’re a pilot or surgeon, then work to perfection. Otherwise, procrastinate less and get more done by understanding that done is indeed better than perfect.

Ask Someone to Hold you Accountable – We are less likely to procrastinate and put something off if we’ve told someone else about what we intend to do. Knowing that person may ask about our progress, we are more likely to act. Share your goal or priorities with someone you trust and ask them to help hold your feet to the fire. An accountability partner can be a powerful productivity strategy.

Go For It – Face the fear of failure (or fear of success) and do it anyway. Take a risk, ask for help if you need it, but make progress, move forward and decide that today is the day.

What are you waiting for? Use these strategies to fight procrastination, get stuff done and reach your goals. Here’s to your increased productivity and success!

Shiny Objects – email alerts, paper piles, interruptions, or other distractions can serve intentionally or unintentionally as avoidance factors, causing us to procrastinate on what we really ought to be doing.

False Beliefs – erroneously thinking, “I work better under pressure” makes some people put off tasks until the last minute. They may even pull it off and get the task done by the deadline, but it is often not the highest quality of work than if the task had been given more time.

Fear of Failure – If someone does not have the confidence that they can accomplish the task successfully, they may procrastinate, preferring to be seen as lacking in effort than in skills.

Thrill Seeking – some people enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies the last minute push to get something done “under the gun.”

Task Related Anxieties – avoiding the difficult, boring or undesired task. “I just don’t want to do it.”

Unclear Expectations – vague priorities or direction might lead to procrastination if you don’t know how to start or what steps to take to get the task done.

Depression – for someone who is experiencing clinical depression, it can be hard to get started on something new. It may feel overly difficult or pointless.

Punitive Parenting – an individual who was raised with highly critical parents may have messages running through their mind that they aren’t good enough and/or they fear additional criticism. Procrastination can be seen as a form of rebellion for these folks too.

Perfectionism – This is the #1 cause for procrastination. Perfectionism can be paralyzing to productivity. A perfectionist will put off starting something that they worry they can’t do perfectly and they will also put off finishing a task because it never seems “good enough.”

Employ these ten strategies to address each cause and combat procrastination:

Eliminate Distraction – clear clutter in your workspace, shut down email to get something done and remove shiny objects from your space.

Gain Clarity – ask questions (of yourself or someone assigning you a task or project) to better understand the objective of the task, as well as the recommended steps to get it done.

Eat an Elephant – Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time. If you feel overwhelmed by a project or task, break it down into bite size pieces. The end result may feel daunting, but each piece should feel very manageable by itself. If the bites still feel overwhelming continue to break them down until taking the first step, or the next step, by itself feels doable.

Stop Messing Around – Sometimes we just need some discipline to stop any avoidance strategies and buckle down to work. Know what you use as avoidance tasks (i.e.: Facebook, a trip to the water cooler, checking email again, etc.) and don’t let yourself indulge until you accomplish a task or reach a milestone in your work.

Establish Rewards – It can be motivating to have something to look forward to. Consider small ways you can reward yourself for staying on task for a period of time (this could be allowing yourself to participate in something that you previously used as an avoidance task – 15 minutes on Facebook, a call to a good friend, a walk around the block, cup of tea, etc.) and identify a bigger way to reward yourself for accomplishing the end result in a timely manner for larger projects. Consider the Pomodoro technique for working – stick to a task or project for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Alternately, work for 50 minutes in an hour and do something for yourself for 10 minutes. Rinse and repeat.

Block Time – Mark time on your calendar for priority tasks, and then honor it. Make appointments with yourself to work on something that you might otherwise put off. We are usually good at sticking to our appointments we make with others. We can do the same for important work we want to accomplish. When the appointment shows up on the calendar, no procrastinating; that is what you work on during that time block. Yes, some of this takes discipline, but you can do it.

Minimize Interruptions (or at least know how you’ll handle them) – If you have an office with a door, consider closing it when working on a priority task or project. Minimally, post something visible that tells others that you are “heads down” for a period of time. Eliminate the candy dish from your desk if it is the reason others constantly interrupt you to chat. If you are interrupted by a colleague, stand to greet them (so they don’t sit and make themselves comfortable for a while), ascertain what they need and then make a decision about whether or not their need is a higher priority than what you were working on. If it is, make a quick note on your work about the step you were about to do next (this reduces the time it takes you to recover from the interruption and reengage in the work) and give them your full attention. If what you are working on is a higher priority than what they need, let them know you are on a deadline and need to finish your work, and ask them to come back or meet up at a later time.

Adopt My Favorite “Recovering Perfectionist” Mantra; Done is Better than Perfect – Get started, even if you don’t think you can do something perfectly. Most of the time, perfect isn’t needed. Know when 90-95% is good enough. A perfectionist will spend 50% of their time on a task or project getting the last 5-10% perfect. That means if they spend an hour getting something 90% done, they will spend another hour perfecting the last 10%. Most of the time, there’s a better use for that time. Unless you’re a pilot or surgeon, then work to perfection. Otherwise, procrastinate less and get more done by understanding that done is indeed better than perfect.

Ask Someone to Hold you Accountable – We are less likely to procrastinate and put something off if we’ve told someone else about what we intend to do. Knowing that person may ask about our progress, we are more likely to act. Share your goal or priorities with someone you trust and ask them to help hold your feet to the fire. An accountability partner can be a powerful productivity strategy.

Go For It – Face the fear of failure (or fear of success) and do it anyway. Take a risk, ask for help if you need it, but make progress, move forward and decide that today is the day.

What are you waiting for? Use these strategies to fight procrastination, get stuff done and reach your goals. Here’s to your increased productivity and success!

Listen or Watch Debbie’s companion podcast on this subject called, “How to Overcome Procrastination”

Debbie Rosemont, CPO®


Debbie Rosemont is a Certified Professional Organizer, Productivity Consultant and Trainer, Owner of Simply Placedand author of the book Six-Word Lessons to Be More Productive. Simply Placed teaches organized systems and productive habits that allow busy professionals to maximize their time, focus on their priorities, reduce stress, improve their customer service and increase their bottom line.

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Time Management Tips: Eliminating Time Wasters

Time Management Tips: Eliminating Time Wasters

Time management tips are in high demand because so many of us do not know how to properly manage our time. If you ask a group of people to define “time management”, they will probably talk about getting it all done, crossing items off of a list, and being productive. However, the best time management tips do not involve cramming more and more into your day. The most valuable time management tips available will actually involve learning to focus your time on those activities that are meaningful to you.

Time Management Tip #1: Be Efficient and Effective

Efficiency means getting a lot done in a short time, but effectiveness happens when you also focus on activities that matter to you. You know how it is when chunk of your day is eaten up by a menial task (like checking email). You may get through hundreds of messages, even empty your in-box, yet still feel vaguely dissatisfied with your effort.

While you got a lot done, it didn’t feel as though you actually accomplished much – because it wasn’t a task near and dear to your heart. As the old saying goes, you can run as fast as you want, but if you’re going in the wrong direction, you still won’t end up where you intended.

Time Management Tip #2: Learn Where Your Time Goes

How much of your life is spent on “time wasters”? These are activities that do nothing to enhance your quality of life, and actually prevent you from accomplishing more important goals. You know you’ve been seduced by a time waster when you find yourself:

  • watching TV shows you don’t really care about
  • checking email over and over throughout the day
  • surfing the internet or cruising chat rooms with no purpose in mind
  • wandering around stores, just looking for bargains
  • spending a few hours every day running errands
  • shuffling the same papers back and forth on your desk

Time Management Tip #3: Draw the Line

The good news is that it’s easy to change these mindless habits and take control of your time management. All it takes is a conscious choice to spend your time differently, and set a little advance planning:

  • When you come home, leave the TV off and find a more meaningful way to decompress (go for a walk, read a book, play with your kids). Review the TV schedule once a week, find those shows you really care about, and record them to watch later without commercials
  • Get into a routine of checking email no more than 3 times a day (morning, noon, and end of the day). Turn off the “you’ve got mail” alarm and program your system to only download emails on command
  • If you lose track of the world while web-surfing, set a timer to go off in 15 or 20 minutes. Make yourself get up and turn off the computer when it dings
  • For 30 days, shop only from a list. Only go to stores that carry the item you need, and if you don’t actually need anything, don’t go to the mall in the first place
  • Set aside a single “errand day” each week and sit down with your family to plan your list. Put everything you need in one basket by the door, and plot your route in advance to avoid backtracking. If someone forgets an errand, either insist that it wait until the next errand day, or let them do it themselves
  • Take 5 minutes to sort through incoming papers every day. Put “to-do” papers into a tickler/action file, and set aside time once a week to file and handle to-do’s. Set up a spot for papers you’re currently working on, and take 5 minutes to clear your desk before you leave each day

Time Management Tip #4: Make Time for Your Priorities

These are just suggestions – you may find other time management tips to help you deal with your specific time wasters. Just a few simple changes will free up hours of time in your schedule each week. Now be sure to put them to good use. Block off time in your schedule for those important projects and don’t allow anything to interrupt you. If someone asks you to do something else during that time slot, let them know you can’t because you already have another appointment (you do – with yourself!) And enjoy the satisfaction you get from spending your new philosophy on time management!

These time management tips can help you do more of what you want with your week. Imagine how great that is going to feel!

by Ramona Creel

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4 Fundamental Organizing Skills Everyone Should Know

4 Fundamental Organizing Skills Everyone Should Know

Organizing skills can prove to be incredibly effective in maintaining a stress-free and productive life. Why is it that so many of us have organizing skills that are rusty and unused? Let’s take a step back to your childhood and think about organizing skills on that level. Childhood is a time of learning new skills – you don’t know how to do it until someone shows you. Organizing skills are very much the same. If you were never taught organizing skills how can you use them? No one teaches “Organizing 101”at school! So let’s pretend that class is in session and look at some basic organizing skills through the eyes of a child…

Group Like With Like

This is one of the most fundamental organizing skills we must obtain. Try singing the Sesame Street song “which of these things is not like the other?” as you organize your storage spaces. When you look around, do you see anything that is clearly out of place? Is there a drill in your pantry or shoes in your file drawer? Sort your belongings into piles according to their purpose: grooming, sports, office supplies, etc. As you store each category, keep similar items together. The travel alarm goes with your luggage, pots and pans go in the same cabinet, and ink cartridges should be near the printer. This organizing skill will set you up for the others.

Give Everything A Home

Organizing skills can easily be demonstrated by a Montessori preschool. Think about how every crayon and building block has a set home, containers are labeled and color coded, and kids know exactly where to go to find the toy they want. As we become adults, we forget our organizing skills and randomly stick things in the first available cabinet, and then complain later when we can’t find them. Each time you assign an item to a storage space, ask yourself why you are stashing it there. Because it’s close to where you will use it? It will be easy to see or reach? That’s the first place you would think to look for it? Make sure you always have a good reason for storing an item in a certain spot.

Pick Your Favorites

This is a secret organizing skill that is quite important! If you put a child in a room full of toys, they will eventually choose just a few favorites to focus on and ignore the rest. Grownups are the same way – we use 20% of our belongings 80% of the time, and vice versa. You have that one outfit that you wear to death, the same dishes you pull out for every meal, and a few books that you read again and again – the rest go untouched. Put your organizing skills to work by giving preference to these “favorites” and see if you can’t weed out some of the other 80% that is just taking up space.

Allow Room To Grow

Do you know why children’s furniture is modular? Because a 10 year-old doesn’t have the same “stuff” as he did when he was 5! But adults often set up a storage system once and think that it is “finished.” As your lifestyle and interests change, your storage must evolve to match. Always leave approximately 15% of your space free for expansion. And each year, take a minute to re-evaluate your storage and make sure it still meets your needs. If not, it may be time to tweak your system.

You can apply these organizing skills to any project – at home or at work. And once you do, you’ll find yourself at the top of a very organized graduating class!

by Ramona Creel

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4 Fall Organizing Projects

4 Fall Organizing Projects

When summer is over and everyone’s returned from vacation, it’s time to get your office in order. Your first priority is catching up on some basic business administrative chores before the end of the year sneaks up on you – all those little bookkeeping paper management tasks you just haven’t gotten around to yet. Once your finances are straightened out, then it’s time for any last-minute tax adjustments that will allow you to minimize your liabilities. And when the work is all done how will you celebrate? Have you decided what to do about the company holiday part this year? Let’s tackle each issue one at a time, with these handy business checklists:

Bookkeeping Chores

  • import and input information from all of your company accounts into your automated bookkeeping software
  • reconcile your general ledger to your bank statement balance
  • review your assets, liabilities, and payables for accuracy
  • catch up on your invoices, then review your outstanding accounts receivables for those bad debts that need to be written off
  • create a profit and loss statement from the current year, review it for mistakes, and use it to develop a budget for the coming year
  • collect social security numbers and other taxpayer ID on those contractors you paid this year and for whom you will need to file a 1099 with the IRS

Year-End Tax Planning

  • meet with your accountant and financial adviser to review possible strategies for minimizing the taxes due
  • review upcoming income for receivables that can be delayed into the new year to lower your current-year tax bill
  • consider prepaying for professional membership dues, subscriptions to journals, or career development courses
  • plan and budget to make any large purchases of equipment or supplies for your company before December 31st
  • make sure that you’re on-target to maximize tax deductions for your company retirement plan or your self-employed retirement plan if you are an entrepreneur
  • gather documentation related to any 179 deductions/depreciation for tangible personal property purchased for use in your business

Archiving Inactive Files

  • monthly/annual financial statements
  • personnel and payroll records
  • retirement and pension records
  • bank and credit card statements
  • investment trade confirmations and stock records
  • employment applications
  • expired insurance policies
  • invoices and expense receipts
  • supporting documents for tax returns
  • property records and improvement receipts
  • income tax payment checks and returns
  • important correspondence and legal records
  • CPA audit reports
  • corporate documents — incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.
  • licenses, patents, and trademarks and registration packets

Holiday Party Planning

  • are spouses and families invited, or just employees?
  • how and when will you send out invitations?
  • will you focus on business issues or just have a party?
  • will employees contribute to the cost of the party? bring food? help set up?
  • do you need to accommodate any special dietary requirements?
  • what is the most appropriate venue — on site or at another location?
  • what will you need in terms of parking, disabled access, supplies, equipment, amenities, etc.?
  • what sort of decorations will you want — banners, flowers, centerpieces, balloons, etc.?
  • how will you go about purchasing or requesting donations for raffle prizes?
  • what will your schedule for the evening look like — time for speeches, presentations, etc.?
  • will you hire caterer and serving help or do the work yourself?
  • will you hire entertainers or arrange a sound system and select recorded music?

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Subdivide for Better Organization

Subdivide for Better Organization

You’ve found the folder you’re looking for. But it’s so full of paperwork that a new search begins for the specific document you want. Over time, files can accumulate a lot of paperwork. Projects, reference files and ongoing records like health or human resources files can get pretty bulky. The solution to managing the growing chaos is to use dividers and fasteners.

Create A File Within A File

The key to controlling files that contain lots of varied information is to subdivide the material into groups within the folder. Just as you use categories for different types of files, you can separate categories of papers within the file folder itself. Finding a specific document or piece of information becomes much easier.

Fasten Up For Safety And Security

Fasteners let you attach papers directly to the file folder. Punched pages stack on top of one another and are held tight by metal prongs. The pages stay in the order you put them in and won’t fall out of the folder. Many Smead folders are available with preinstalled fasteners that hold up to two inches of material. You can also add fasteners to any filing product using Self-Adhesive Fasteners.

Divide And Conquer

Fasteners in a folder create categories by using the inside panels to separate papers. Having dividers in a folder lets you define even more categories within the file. Smead products with built-in dividers include:

  • Classification Folders
  • Organizer Folders
  • Weekly Organizers
  • Project Organizers
  • Poly Three-Divider Project Jackets
  • Desk File/Sorters

You can also add more filing surfaces to most file folders using Self-Adhesive Dividers. Create folders that give you a separate filing surface for each category of material.

Divider Diversity

Sometimes you need a divider that’s got special capabilities. If you keep valuable materials in the folder that cannot be punched, such as photos, certificates, digital media or bound paperwork, choose a divider style that meets their storage requirements. Smead offers a variety of products with special purpose dividers:

  • Pocket style dividers with fasteners
  • Wallet dividers
  • Slash pocket dividers

You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to find specific information in a bulky folder when you organize the materials using dividers and fasteners. And your coworkers will be amazed at how smart you are when you can effortlessly locate anything in the file.

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Labeling Your Files: Alphabetic vs. Numeric

Labeling Your Files: Alphabetic vs. Numeric

When setting up a good filing system, one of the most important decisions you make is the indexing method you will use to identify each file. What should be on the file label to identify it in the file drawer or on the shelf? Smead Organomics calls these the Finders; file headings, names, account numbers, transaction dates, category names, etc. What you use as the primary document indexing for your files depends on the nature of the documents, your workflow processes, the amount of files in your system and the number of people who need to access the files.

It usually comes down to a choice of filing by a name (alphabetic indexing) or a number (numeric indexing). Each has its own advantages, and Smead Organomics has filing solutions for both indexing methods that help users find files quickly and avoid costly misfiled records.

Alphabetic Indexing: It’s as simple as ABC

Use alphabetic filing when you want to identify files by a descriptive heading, such as:

  • Business names
  • Names of people
  • Geographic regions
  • Subject categories

Indexing alphabetically is easy to learn because anyone who can read knows the order of letters in the alphabet. Filing by a name is also very intuitive. You know you have the right file simply be reading its heading. Unlike numeric indexing, no cross-reference system is needed, so users of the system can find files simply by looking them up in the filing system. A file with an alphabetic heading is also easier to identify when it’s out of the file system and in use.

There are disadvantages to alphabetic filing when the number of files grows to several thousand. The more files you have, the greater risk of having the same name on more than one file. There is also a higher risk of misfiled records if users don’t follow certain rules for alphabetizing, such as filing by a person’s last name, or ignoring the word “The” at the beginning of business names or titles.

Numeric Indexing: Accuracy You Can Count On

Most very large filing systems use a numeric indexing method for a variety of reasons. A file that’s indexed by a number has only one possible location in the filing system, making filing mistakes far less likely than alphabetic filing systems. Many times, a number is already being used as an identifier such as:

  • Account numbers
  • Transaction numbers
  • Product or part numbers
  • SKU or UPC numbers
  • Case numbers

An essential component of any numeric system is the cross-reference index. Users must have a way to look up file numbers quickly and make sure they are indeed the records that they need. The numbers are often assigned or tracked by computer software, which makes it easy to identify the records you want through search queries and sorting. Certain industries use numbers for security and privacy issues, such as keeping medical or financial information confidential.

Consider each indexing method when designing your filing system. Weigh their pros and cons against the way you use documents at your office. Whichever you choose, there is a Smead Organomics filing solution that can help your personnel be more productive.

 

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Straight Tab Filing is King

Find It Faster Using Straight-Line Filing

The Smead Straight-Line Filing method was developed to help you file and find files faster and easier. Straight-Line Filing is based on the simple fact that your eyes scan information much faster when moving in a straight line versus looking back and forth.

A Proven Concept

A good example of the Straight-Line concept can be seen in the way that names are organized in a phone book. Finding a name in a phone book is easy because the names are arranged in columns so your eyes scan them in a straight line. If you had to look back and forth across the page, finding a name would be more difficult and time consuming. The same concept holds true when setting up your filing system. By using folders with tabs in the same position, you can quickly scan file headings to find the file you need, which dramatically reduces the time you spend looking for files.

Keep It Straight and Keep It Organized

Many file drawers are arranged using folders with tabs in assorted positions. This system of organization forces you to look back and forth across the file drawer to find the folder you need.

This takes longer and is more frustrating when you’re looking for that important file. Straight-Line Filing changes all that. By using file folders with tabs all in one position, your eyes can quickly scan a large number of folder headings to find the file you need with minimal effort.

Adding New Files Still Keeps It Straight

When using assorted tab folders, adding new files disrupts the tab position sequence, making your system look disorganized. This makes scanning file headings even more frustrating since the tabs no longer follow any order. With Straight-Line Filing, adding new records does not disrupt the tab sequence, keeping the system organized and performing as well as the first day you set it up.

Straight-Line Filing Works In Any Type Of Filing System

Straight-Line Filing is not just for manila folders. Whether you file small amounts of records in folders, or large amounts of paper in file pockets, Smead has a single tab position product to fit your filing needs. Just be sure the tabs or label headings are in the same position on all of your files.

Add Color for Peak Performance

Adding color to your Straight-Line Filing system speeds filing and retrieval time and helps eliminate lost files. Color coding has been used for many years in medical and dental offices that manage very large numbers of files. Studies have proven that people identify colors far more quickly than reading words. Color breaks your filing system into smaller sections that quickly bring you within a few folders of the one you are looking for. You quickly learn to associate colors with letters. Instinctively, you first look for the color before you read any of the label text.

Set the Records Straight

Setting up your system using Straight-Line Filing will start to pay off immediately. 80 percent of the cost of your filing system is the personnel time spent filing and retrieving documents. Not only will the system save money, it will also make you feel better and look more professional when you can quickly find what you need.

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Preparing for a Meeting

How To Plan Ahead For Meetings

Meetings that are unstructured or poorly planned usually end up being a waste of everybody’s time. Here’s how a little organization will ensure that your meetings are well focused and productive.

Follow these three principles when preparing for your next meeting:

  1. Plan ahead.
  2. Be prepared.
  3. Control and capture.

You’ll feel more confident about your presentations and your ability to get the results you want from all participants. We recommend using report covers with a clear poly front to distribute meeting handouts.

Plan Ahead

  • Productive meetings happen if you plan for their success. Make sure you have a clear objective and set a defined agenda. Allow enough time to reach the goal, and schedule the meeting time accordingly. If you want to keep it short, schedule it for late in the day.
  • Invite only the people who will contribute to the objective. Meetings of more than six people tend to get less accomplished.
  • Send invitations early and be clear about location, date, time and the objective of the meeting. Follow up with a reminder in a different format. If your invitation is sent via e-mail, follow up with a phone call.

Be Prepared

  • Make sure that everything will be ready at your meeting. Double check that your equipment, venue, handouts, refreshments, and presentations are lined up well in advance. Rehearse your presentation to smooth out any rough spots.
  • Use Report Covers with Clear Poly Front to hold meeting handouts. The clear front panel allows you to include a cover page, or make the meeting agenda easily visible. Fasteners in standard three-hole position let you bind in up to 1/2 inch of material.
  • If you want participants to be familiar with the material to be covered, send it out ahead of time. Include the agenda, list of participants and the date, time and location of the meeting.

Control and Capture

  • Begin on time and stick to the agenda. Allow attendees to contribute ideas, but don’t let the meeting get off track. Keep an eye on the clock to make sure the entire agenda gets covered in the time allowed.
  • Appoint a person to take notes during the meeting. Capture all ideas and issues that need further action. Consider recording long meetings with audio or video so that no important information is lost.
  • After the meeting, extract the most important points into a concise minutes document. Distribute the minutes to attendees, highlighting action items that require further activity.

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Project Management Tips

Project Management Plan: 5 Steps to Organizing and Managing any Project

A project management plan is a must-have for anyone with project-based work to do. Following a project management plan will help you reduce stress while producing quality work. Project management is a lot like taking a journey. You have some idea of where you want to go, but you’re unsure what steps will get you there. As with any trip, project management becomes a snap when you invest a little planning time up front.

1. MAP: Set up your project management plan

The first step to creating your project management plan is starting a roadmap. Try examining the project and asking a few simple questions:

  • What are my goals? What end result am I trying to accomplish?
  • What is my deadline?
  • Who will I need to include in this project?
  • What supplies / resources will I need to get this done?

This is a grounding exercise that is designed to help you get a basic idea of what this project will require of you. This is the important foundation for your project management plan. You will now find it a lot easier to break these “big picture” ideas into smaller steps to follow.

2. ORGANIZE: Keep your project paperwork organized

The key to any successful journey is organizing your travel paperwork – a project is no different. Just as you do with your hotel reservations, plane tickets and tourist brochures, you need a system for storing all of your project files in one location so you never have to waste time searching. Like travel paperwork, project files are temporary. These files will only be used until the project is completed. Assign a separate drawer or hanging file box for your project paperwork. Of course, the best possible project organizing system is portable so that you can take them with you wherever you go on.

3. IMPLEMENT: Put your project management plan into action

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – and the same is true of your project. You have to start somewhere. The creation of your Project Management Plan should always be the first on your list. Maybe your second step will be working out a schedule or drawing up a list of tasks. Or perhaps you want to have a meeting to brainstorm with your team. Don’t spend too much time worrying about exactly which step to take – any move forward is a good one. You may feel stuck at the beginning of your project, but just getting started often provides the momentum you need to keep you moving in the right direction.

4. RECOGNIZE: Pay attention to progress with your project management plan

Most long journeys actually involve a series of smaller trips, stopping to see this site or visit this town along the way. This is also how a project management plan works. Every project, no matter how large, is just a series of smaller tasks – and your job is simply to figure out what those tasks are. Each one of these steps constitutes a “milestone” which gets you a little closer to your end goal. While you never want to lose sight of your final destination, your project will be a lot less overwhelming if you simply focus on your next milestone (bit sized is always easier to swallow!) Once you accomplish that task, move to the next – in no time, you will find that you have systematically worked your way to the end of the project.

5. COMPLETE: Make sure you are meeting your project management plan deadlines

On any journey, you have some idea of how long you plan to spend in each location and when you will need to arrive at your next destination. The same is true while executing your project management plan, but instead of scheduling from your departure date forward, you will schedule from your arrival (or deadline) date backward. Ask yourself when each previous step must be completed for the next step to happen on time, as well as how long each step will realistically take to complete. These can each be plugged into your calendar. This will help you to create a schedule you can live with, allow you to see progress along the way, and prevent a lot of last-minute rushing (which keeps your stress levels down).

With a project management plan and the steps above you should be well on your way to many successful and enjoyable project management experiences.

by Ramona Creel

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