Spring Cleaning: 7 steps to conquer clutter — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Clear the deck, scrub it down and start over? Remove everything and put back only what you need? In your dreams!

If "cluttered desk," "cluttered mind" is your motto and purging your workstation of clutter is only a dream, approach it one problem at a time. Use these seven steps to "declutter":

1. Close the dump. Do you have a "dump site" where you stash papers or other items because you can't decide where to put them or you're a procrastinator? Your desktop is not a storage area; the only papers there should be the ones on which you are currently working. When items don't have a "home," they pile up everywhere. Label a spot for every item and keep it there.

2. Don't be a pack rat. Be ruthless in discarding items. "Just in case" isn't enough justification to keep most items. And don't hoard supplies in your workstation. Periodically clear the accumulated flotsam from your desk drawers.

3. Follow the "daily" rule. If you don't use an item every day, store it out of sight.

Maximize your office organization by knowing what you can toss and what you MUST keep. Perform an office audit with this useful guide... Personnel Records: What to Keep, What to Toss

4. Ditch the knickknacks. You don't need to strip all mementos from your workstation, but keep only meaningful items. Have some items been on your desk or wall so long that you no longer notice them? If you can't bear to part with them, at least rotate the display so only a few are visible at a time.

5. Scan your shelves. Pitch expired catalogs, old telephone books and outdated reference materials.

6. Go electronic. Self-adhesive notes are wonderful, but they pile up and fall off onto the floor or into other files. Train yourself to keep notes electronically, such as using the Microsoft Outlook Tasks feature.

The same "keep everything" strategy can overwhelm your office and cost you time, energy and resources. But dispose of too many documents — or toss out just that one critical record — and you're still cooked.

If old policies won't save you, a new system will... Get Personnel Records: What to Keep, What to Toss now!

7. Combine functions. Perform an office-form audit. Review the forms your office uses for any that can be discontinued, shortened or merged.

If multiple small machines perform similar functions, replace them with an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier.

If the clutter problem exists company-wide, suggest an annual "cleanup day." Create a central area where employees pitch excess supplies, stash cleaning supplies nearby and arrange an extra trash pickup.

Prepare for purging files by providing all employees an easy-to-understand list of what to keep, where to file it and what they can discard.

Fact is, handling employee records is no longer a minor logistical headache. It’s a legal minefield and one little misstep can literally blow your company – and career – away.

You need a system you can trust. A foolproof system. A clear, step-by-step system that makes sure you can keep what matters, toss what doesn’t and maintain everything efficiently.

book coverThe companies using this keep-and-toss system breathe easy.

Go ahead! Free up storage, save precious office “real estate” and throw out 13 categories of personnel records cluttering up your files. Personnel Records: What to Keep, What to Toss shows you how to do it – efficiently, effectively and without violating any of the wildly different retention regulations.

For each type of personnel record, you’ll know – in plain English – the minimum retention period under federal law. When it’s up, they’re out! Simple as that.

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