Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Zen and the Art of Office Organization

It's amazing how nicknames follow you from place to place, unique names that you'd never think would come up twice seem to pop up in companies hundreds of miles apart.

(My idea of me as File Nazi)
Mine is "The File Nazi." Ok, so it isn't overtly flattering or pleasant but it's not entirely inaccurate either. I find contentment and satisfaction in things in my workplace being organized. Not necessarily my desk, not necessarily my home, but my workplace in general I find it necessary for things to be in good order, organized, and easy to locate. I got this name in college when I worked for my school's financial aid office as a student office assistant. I was in charge of filing as I seemed to have the alphabet down better than any other assistants (I'm not kidding, as sad as that is), and I could not only alphabetize quickly but I could keep documents within files in order and would tend to hang out in the old filing archive closet to make sure those files were organized whenever things were slow and I had run out of work to do.
My slight case of OCD paid off big time when the college went through it's first voluntary surprise audit. All offices failed their first audit except ours. They handed us a list of files they needed and specific documents they wanted and off I went, and within an hour I had it all sitting neatly in front of them, ready to go.

From that day on I always seemed to attack filing systems and workplace organization the same way, as if the auditors were about to decend and I wanted to pass with flying colors. So it was just a matter of time before my current office figured out my passion and skill and put it to good and enormous use. I work for a medium-sized consulting company that has been in business for 25 years. They are tree-killers in the most extreme sort of way. They are also hoarders. In a large closet the size of my old college dorm room sits dozens of file boxes filled with every e-mail, every fax, contract, draft of contract, proposal, draft of proposal, etc, for every client they have ever had in the last 25 years. They also have an electronic filing system that is completely unorganized and similarly stocked full of things they don't need.

So what does that have to do with me? Well, they have put me in charge of organizing it ALL. I'm now in charge of completely reorganizing this company from the inside out. At first I was excited, I was practically drooling, but now that I've reduced 10 file boxes into 2 file boxes, moved over 90,000 electronic files, reogranized their filing system, and put into place a new document strategy I look around and see how much more there is to do and I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

It is time to pull out the File Nazi. No more Mary Poppins, no more spoons full of sugar helping the filing get done, it's time to get into a happy place, let my zen run rampant, and get to some serious organizing before it kills me or I kill them.

Man, I should write a book for admins. Zen and the Art of Office Organization.

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