The Official Office Summer Slim Down

Ten Tips to get your office in tip-top shape


I’m in the mood to get down to business – in the office. Want to join me? Great! Only where do we start? We all heart that light and bright feeling of being in fighting form in body, home and business – but how do we get from the heavy here and now to the buoyant stages of an in-shape, stripped down life, especially in the office? It seems tips for cutting back and tossing the excesses in home and diet can be found without a lot of effort, it’s getting an office into tip-top shape that stumps the best of us. To bridge that gap I have my Official Office Summer Slim Down – 10 steps to get started on an office diet of sorts, so you can start the summer with a spring in your step!

In my experience the issue that most plagues my clients (and their business and/or home offices) is the plethora of paper. Where to put it, when to file and/or purge, what papers should they keep and why. With this challenge in mind let’s focus on an office slim down with the intent of going as paperless as possible. We all know that going light on paper is more sustainable for the environment because it saves trees. The funny thing is it’s also more sustainable for your personal/professional environment as well – the less paper you use and store, the more you save in time, energy and money.

Here’s how to slim down your office for the summer:

1. Going paperless means going digital. Don’t jump without a net. Make sure you have an external drive backing up your computer(s) and create a redundancy using an offsite backup for good measure (in case of theft, fire, flood etc.) I recommend Mozy to my clients. We heart safety.

2. Sign up for paperless billing wherever possible and halt the influx of paper. Selected banks will allow you to sign up for bill payments online and are therefore paperless. See your bank for available services.

3. Sign up to remove yourself from junk mail lists, credit offers and catalogs by clicking on the links to these free services. Start with these two sites; OptOutPrescreen.com and DMAchoice.org.

4. Have your daily or weekend newspapers sent to you through your computer so you can read online and consider doing the same with your magazine subscriptions. We love the information, but not the paper pileup.

5. Have an up to date address book/database on your computer so you can get rid of the stacks of business cards. If you are in a business where you receive a lot of cards it is worth investing in a quality Card Scanner.

6. Shred your receipts for atm and credit cards once you see your (online) bank and credit card statements. Receipts needed for taxes can be easily scanned.

7. You can get rid of most manuals and user guides for appliances and gadgets – refer to online guides, like UsersManualGuide.com when necessary. Remember to take advantage of your favorites/bookmark bar for your most used gadgets.

8. Go through current magazines (if you must!) for information you want to keep. Scan favorite articles to create your own online archive of ideas you heart! Then recycle…

9. Invoices, client notes and records – all can be digital. Scan them and file in documents.

10. Finally, as note taking girl, Evernote is my favorite way to keep scraps of ideas without keeping scraps of paper. These notes are available to you on your phone, on the web and on your computer. Grab notes from the web, scan handwritten notes, take pictures of them and so much more. This application deserves a whole article it is so powerful!

Enjoy your slim and trim office my friends! And what a weight off your conscience too – knowing you are doing your part for the trees. Check back at we heart this next Wednesday for Part Two – Should I Stay or Should I Go? A guide on papers you should keep..

Readers – Have you ditched the paper in your office? Share your going paperless tips in the comments!

Jennifer Palais clears chaos and brings order to offices, business systems, schedules and minds and is known as an organizing expert and coach. Her approach is 10-years in the making: Inspirational, well informed and practical. It is a process filled with fun, joy and discovery. For more organizing tips, follow her on Twitter.

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Written by jpal

22 Comments

  1. Profile photo of turboterp
    turboterp

    Wow, @jpal, just the links for opting out of junk mail alone have me so excited! I’ve been striving to cut down on paper (at least in my work life), and your tips will help me in my home life, too.

    I confess there’s one thing I cannot embrace yet: digital newspapers and magazines. I love turning glossy pages and doing the daily newspaper Sudoku with a pencil!

  2. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    I’ve got a tip, not so much for how to get it in shape, but for how to prevent it all from getting too OUT of shape.
    -Deal with things as the come in. Especially emails, paperwork and mail. I find when I don’t, I get overrun with to-do piles (actual ones and virtual ones!). It’s so much easier to just take a few minutes and deal with things now.
    .-= Stef´s last blog ..Green & Spring – the Brits go natural =-.

  3. Profile photo of lyssachelle
    lyssachelle

    I needed these tips; I’m a clutter freak. Not in the office but at home, I tend to keep EVERYTHING because I have that “What if you need it?!?” thought running through my head every time I try to trash something.

    These will definitely help me put a dent in the mess that is threatening to take over my life.

  4. Profile photo of Kellie
    Kellie

    These tips are fabulous! I recently did a huge cleaning job in my apartment. I am not done yet. But without a doubt the main problem was paper! We kept everything. What a mess! Mountains of paper. I will use these tips as I try to tackle the rest of my clutter and to hopefully keep it more organized permanently. I do not want to be featured on Hoarders.

  5. Profile photo of kari
    kari

    I was seriously just sitting here thinking about all of the paper clutter I have building up (old bills, documents, notes, etc) and how to get rid of it when lo and behold I find this fantastic piece featured today!!

    Thank you @jpal!!!! This is exactly the advice I was looking for today!

  6. Profile photo of jpal
    jpal

    You are so right @Stef! To stay in shape when dealing with paper and email it is essential to address right away. Especially for snail mail – dealing with mail is a little like brushing your teeth – you have to do it everyday and there just isn’t a better way.

  7. Profile photo of jpal
    jpal

    @lyssachelle, Alyssa – you have the “just in case” philosophy that leads to clutter…so many of us have this. Sometimes switching to the “just in time” philosophy can help. Believing that we’ll have the items we need when we need them prevents us from keeping 20 bottles of rubbing alcohol just in case!

  8. Profile photo of Tyna Werner
    Tyna Werner

    As a total paper hoarder, like @lyssachelle, these tips are very helpful. I always think I need to hold onto my ATM and purchase receipts for years. Now I can confidently shred and recycle all of those papers stuffed in my “office” closet.

    Thanks @jpal for these tips – can’t wait until next week for the second part of this office diet!

    Oh and here’s another great source for cutting the clutter out of your life. It’s not for junk mail but for Junk Phone Calls – get your home and cell #s on the National Do Not Call list to cut out annoying sales calls:
    https://www.donotcall.gov/

    .-= Tyna Werner´s last blog ..20% off at the Beauty.com Friends and Family event =-.

  9. Profile photo of Erin
    Erin

    Great post! Junk mail has gotten ridiculous lately so I will definitely be checking out those 2 sites! My big problem is recipes I’m constantly cutting out and beauty, fashion, decorating and exercise tips/ products I’m always tearing from the page of my many magazines! One thing I’ve started doing, that’s actually worked pretty good for me, is taking a picture of the page with my iPhone and just storing it right on there. I can still read the print fine from the phone and I’ve captured the
    info I need without the paper. I pull my phone
    out a lot when I’m at a store to check for a
    lipstick color name or something else I’ve
    saved etc, and then delete it when I’m done. I
    also use the note app on the phone to jot
    down things I want to remember.

    Bills will also have to be my next step in going
    paperless. It just PILES up and then you have
    to shread all of it!

  10. Profile photo of sherrishera
    sherrishera

    Oh, @jpal, I keep saying that I’m gonna tackle my piles every day but my old piles make me feel that it’s pointless! If I could get rid of that old stuff and start anew, I think I could do it. My poor home shredder can’t handle it all, though. I think I remember your mentioning places where I can take massive piles of stuff to shred. Am I imagining (dreaming) this? Help!

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  12. Profile photo of jpal
    jpal

    @spitfire77 I love your idea of taking photos of your magazine articles! (or scanning them!) If you wanted to import these into Evernote (which you can download for free onto your iphone and computer at Evernote.com for mac and pc) you’d be able to tag them for easy recall anytime, anywhere. You could take a pic straight from Evernote, clip web pages to Evernote…You can take voice notes too. It is a remarkable place to keep track of random lists and scraps or keep track of articles, track a project even. I use it for client notes…

  13. Profile photo of jpal
    jpal

    @tiffany Junk mail can be tough to get rid of. Sometimes you need to register for multiple agencies and really stay on top of it for each piece of mail you want to eliminate…even to the point of sending an individual letter to that specific agency to stop the mail. I’ve had clients set up a mail center with multiple copies of their “cease and desist” letter with stamps and envelopes all set to go to make the process a bit more smooth. It can take up to 6 months but eventually the effort will pay off and your mail box will be slim and trim. ;-)

  14. Profile photo of jpal
    jpal

    @sherrishera the place I know of in LA (they are in Nevada, Utah and Texas too) that will shred up to 10 bankers boxes worth of paper right in front of you in 15 minutes for about $100 is called American Shredding 1-213-359-6318. I’m waiting to hear back on a quote for a client now but this was the pricing the last time I used them. There are a lot of companies who do this bulk shredding and I suggest to clients (and friends!) who are behind on their shredding to have a “shredding party” and get all of their bags and boxes together to split the cost of bulk shredding. It is completely worth it!

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