by Megan Jewell

Business Week journalist Karen E. Klein recently interviewed Monica Ricci, author of Organize Your Office in No Time, about a new trend in small businesses nationwide. Many new business owners are outsourcing someone to come and organize the office! Organizational consultants can come in and make the office more efficient and better organized in half a day, or take months recreating filing systems. Ricci, a professional organizer, says that entrepreneurs shouldn’t feel embarrassed about needing help getting their companies under control. Ricci has encountered plenty of office chaos, citing her most challenging job as a consultant’s three rooms of office space, each waist-deep in paper. “There must have been 7-8 years of unopened mail, bills, publications and client files.”

Monica says that some people are disorganized because of poor time management, procrastination, unclear priorities, or lack of boundaries. “When you are unsure what to work on first, people end up spending time on tasks that could be put off until a later time.” One of the biggest success factors is to figure out what the high payoffs are, and focus on those first. One big obstacle can be fear, especially fear of losing important information. Ironically, when everything is important and you hold on to it, you can never find the TRULY important information.

Smaller businesses must follow up with multiple prospects to stay organized and on top of projects and their details. I know just how easy it can be to fall behind for a week or more because one thing was overlooked. Potential prospects can slip by because too many papers in the office encourage forgotten deadlines and misplaced names and phone numbers. Everyone in the office must be on the same page about priorities. If you are expecting an important return call, be sure that anyone who may encounter that phone call knows it, and knows how best to reach you if you are out of the office.

Below are some tips that Monica recommends for those who find themselves spending more time looking for information or a file than actually utilizing it.

  • Give yourself mental and physical strategies
    • Visualize yourself doing a task quickly and easily
  • Negotiate rewards for yourself
    • Do something you enjoy once you finish a particular project
  • Imagine the sense of relief and accomplishment you will feel when the task is done
  • For people who easily lose track of time, Monica advises to try and be realistic about time
    • Don’t underestimate your time and schedule yourself up to the last minute–allow plenty of time
    • Don’t overestimate the time it takes to do something you dislike-you’ll claim you don’t have time as a way to avoid the task
    • If you really feel like you don’t have a realistic sense of the time it takes to do a project, start keeping track of how long tasks actually take

Professional organizers charge anywhere from $70-$200 per hour; however, some may have flat fees for half-day or full-day consults or larger jobs. To find an organizer near you, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers at

Klein, Karen E. Hire An Office Angel. Business Week . September 19, 2005.