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Quiz: Are You an Office Snob or an Office Slob?

Posted on: March 11th, 2013 by No Comments

If your office phone rings every 37 seconds, your inbox is stacked sky-high, and your filing cabinets are drooling a paper trail into the halls, congratulations! It sounds like your job really needs you. But with the constant onslaught of things to do, it can be difficult to take care of one fundamental thing that makes the rest of your job (and your life) so much easier: organization.

Most of us could use some help in this area (those people who color code every note, have sticky tabs sticking out of every user’s manual and binder, and whose Google Calendar is maintained more carefully than the Pope’s cassock are the exception). At the same time, many of us don’t know where to start.

So to diagnose the weak points in your office organization style, we’ve concocted this short quiz. Once you pinpoint your style with the help of our little test, we’ve put together some targeted suggestions of tools and tricks you can use to get things running more smoothly.

•    Take a look at your desk. What’s on it?
•    A computer, a few pens, and nothing else. Other important items are all labeled and organized on hanging shelves on either side of your pristine workspace.
•    The stuff above, plus a tray for incoming messages and papers, a caddy for paperclips, white-out, pens, and a stapler, plus a reusable water bottle.
•    A sea of papers, Werther’s Original wrappers, the kitchen sink, your daughter’s birthing blanket, and probably a computer, but you haven’t been able to see it for months because of the messy trash heap that’s been growing there every day.•    Open up a filing cabinet. What do you see?
•    A drawer of “slide-able” folders, each containing a reasonable amount of papers for the folder thickness, all of which are standing upright, clearly labeled for contents, and alphabetized.
•    A daunting collection of folders, some seeming to overflow a bit, but most of which are standing upright, labeled, and appropriately categorized.
•    An impossible horizontal stack of papers, some of which date back to 1993, most of which are coffee stained, and none of which are in any kind of order whatsoever. There’s also a turkey baster, your dad’s high school class ring, and a half-used bottle of fabric softener.

•    On a busy workday, where do you eat your lunch?
•    In the break room down the hall.
•    At a little table (not your desk) in your office or cubicle.
•    Hovering over your computer keyboard, alternately typing, munching, and licking your fingers as you try to work straight through.memos notepads

•    When you get an important phone call, how do you keep track of what was said?
•    You use a voice recorder and also open up a Notepad document to type up key points as they are covered.
•    Get out a physical notepad and scribble down bullet points as you talk.
•    You use your mind. Your noggin’s pretty much like a steel trap. Sure, every now and again a few thoughts chew their legs off and escape, but heck, there is no perfect system.

•    When you meet a new potential client or work contact, what do you do?
•    Immediately offer them your business card, which clearly displays your contact information, as well as links to your website and social media pages.
•    Chat for a while to see whether it makes sense to open up a business connection. If so, exchange business cards and set a date to meet up for coffee and brainstorming. If not, shake hands warmly and go on with your day.
•    Plug their number into your cell phone, if you can find it in your pocket or in that huge sack, er, purse you tote around with you. You think you may have printed business cards once, but the box is probably buried and wound up with cobwebs in the back of your garage at this point.

If you answered:
Mostly As: If there was an award for the most organized office employee of the millennium, you would be a shoe-in. On the downside, you might also be a candidate for the most uptight award! While office organization is important, you may want to take a look at the finely tuned machine you’ve built and see if there’s any room for letting in a little creativity and free-thinking. When you’re recording phone calls to the letter, for example, you may not be as tuned in to the human being on the other line as you might be without the gadgets and dictation-taking. And mechanically handing out business cards to veritable strangers may look like it will help you make meaningful connections, but people generally appreciate a bit more personality when they’re thinking of working with others. A healthy work life, like a healthy social life, is all about balance.

Mostly Bs: You’ve got a grip on this organizational thing, and yet you’ve managed not to let your preoccupation with neatness completely sap your creativity and your personality. You use your head when you’re putting things presentation foldersin their place, which allows you to discern between things that require attention and those that can be discarded. This synchronicity of structure and intuition make an efficient worker, and a fun person to be around at the same time. Just be careful not to let your relaxed outlook infringe on your organizational habits. To keep your streamlined momentum going, it’s a nice idea to infuse your space with new and attractive presentation folders from time to time, to get some personalized sticky notes, or to print updated business cards. These fun office staples can keep you enthusiastic about maintaining order. Meanwhile, weeding through old papers and recycling the junk you don’t need should be done on a weekly basis.

Mostly Cs: Even if it’s not January 1st, it’s time to start the year over on your office organization regimen (or lack thereof). Even if you think you’re too busy, even if you have to show up at work three hours early or stay four hours late, you need a major overhaul of your workspace and work style, and there’s no time like the present. Start by taking a huge trash bag into your office and dumping in it all the junk that doesn’t belong there (that half empty bottle of fabric softener and the turkey baster, for example). Your daughter’s baby blanket can go in the “keep” pile, but for pete’s sake, get it out of the workplace!