The average office worker loses up to 1.5 hours a day (that’s six weeks per year!) to disorganization, i.e. looking for things. With the New Year approaching, it’s the perfect time to ditch those habits, streamline your processes and reduce the stress levels in your office. After all, who doesn’t love making a resolution they can actually stick to?

1. Purge your office 

The word “purge” often gets a bad rap – negative connotations abound and it can be viewed as an extreme measure – but it’s the best thing you can do for your office and records system. Declutter your desk, shredding and disposing of every paper, knick-knack or distraction that you don’t need. This goes for equipment, supplies and decorations as well – if it has a layer of dust on it, you’re not using it. Then, take a look at the digital files on your computer and do the same thing: clear your inbox, organize your desktop, delete your unnecessary files and empty your trash can.

2. Make paperless an option

Everybody heralded the invention of the computer as the death to paper, but the use of office paper has actually tripled in the period since. Now that you’ve purged your office of all unnecessary items and documents, keep it that way by eliminating the word “print” from your vocabulary as often as possible. We know “paperless” is more of a goal than a destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t significantly reduce the physical records you need to retain.

3. Modify your filing system

Take your paperless initiative to a new level by switching from a physical filing system to an electronic document management system (EDMS). Not only will your coworkers, management and blood pressure thank you, but you can reduce the number of archived files you are storing in-house and offsite by digitally converting them. Let’s face it, 80% of the papers we store are never referred to again…we simply keep them to remain compliant with federal and state regulations. By embracing the digital world, you maintain that compliance while reducing your costs and streamlining your access and retrieval procedures.

icons_blog4. Establish a retention policy

You don’t need to keep each document or record your company touches and processes indefinitely; every file has a defined period of retention before you are allowed to defensibly destroy it. Find out what the state and federal requirements are for each document type and build those parameters into your retention policy. Then, once your records meet these discard dates, shred or delete them to make room for incoming documents. This applies to any files, materials or equipment you are storing offsite as well – make sure you partner with a vendor who can help you save the documents as needed, and securely destroy them as necessary.

5. Automate Processes

If you had to calculate the time spent manually completing your documentation processes – from retrieval through approval and filing – how much would it add up to? We’re willing to bet it rivals the time spent looking for things. But, what if you could automatically route your documents for review, approval or digital signature? How about if you could automatically classify and file your documents without any data entry or human intervention? We know the feeling: suddenly, catching up on your to-do list actually seems possible!

The right document management software system can do all of that, and more. It will even help you maintain the above-mentioned retention policy by marking items for shredding or destruction, while still accounting for legal holds and other exceptions to make sure you never end up on the wrong side of compliance.

messy_clean_deskThe Right Tools

Using the right organizational tools can improve time management by 38%, as well as increase your employees’ ability to concentrate on the important tasks of running your business, helping your customers and improving your bottom line. Find the electronic document management system that’s right for you, train everybody on how to use it, and make sure good, organized habits are formed and new policies are followed. Then, sit back and enjoy the peace of mind…right before zooming off to your next important task.

Final Reminder

These steps can be implemented at any point throughout the year – no need to wait for New Year’s and resolutions! Start now, thank yourself later.