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Getting Back The 76 Hours You Lost

hourglassSay, where did you put that piece of equipment you purchased? And the prospective customer’s phone number – it was around here somewhere, wasn’t it? There’s an invoice that needs to be paid that was just on your desk a minute ago, so what happened to it?

We all misplace items in the course of our week. It drives us crazy trying to find it until most of the time, we do. But did you ever think of just how much time is lost in productivity trying to locate missing items…in a year?

The total may blow your mind: 76 hours a year.

You read that correctly. A recent survey by Brother International finds that the average employee spends 76 hours per year trying to find items they’ve misplaced in the office or on their computer.

If that number seems outrageously high, consider that you can get there fairly easily if you spend just under 20 minutes per day looking for something either in your office or on your computer. Even if you haven’t lost a physical item this week, like a calculator or file folder, think about how many times you’ve had to search for anything on your computer that you couldn’t find right away – and suddenly, that 20 minutes wasted each day doesn’t seem difficult to reach, does it?

How do you reverse the trend and find the time?

Give yourself a paperwork home base.
That home base shouldn’t mean putting it in a corner of your desk or stuffing it all into one of your drawers either. Dedicate a special box for your invoices, credit card statements, bills you’ve paid, annual policies, etc. If it’s something you’re going to refer to on a semi-regular basis within the year, don’t put that box away in storage. Keep it handy and accessible. Other records, such as legal and financial paperwork that you don’t need every year but still need to hang on to could be filed away in a separate folder.

Scan everything else.
With a scanner, you can eliminate a lot of the hard copies of files and paperwork that you may not need this very instant and could build up too much on your desk if left in their original paper form. Older receipts are a good example of this. A scanner lets you keep these records in a secure place online while de-cluttering your workspace. Arrange them by the month or quarter.

What kind of secure place are we referring to?
Not your computer. A computer can be stolen or damaged, leading you to scramble to save your information. Instead, once scanned, consider putting your files on an external hard drive (also called a “flash drive”) or an online cloud storage center such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

Keep your most regularly used files close and send those less-than-urgent files into digital storage. You’ll whittle down the average of 76 hours per year thanks to being more focused and productive on the core business that matters most.

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