The Problem: A Messy Briefcase
What is a briefcase? It's a mini-office that should contain all of the information and tools you need to manage your work day when you are out of the office. For many working professionals, it simply becomes one more place where disorganization and messiness runs rampant. And a messy briefcase may send the message to potential clients and business partners that your entire business is disorganized and messy.
The Challenge: Organize Your Briefcase in One Hour
Take one hour this weekend and get organized. Use this step-by-step solution to organize your briefcase once and for all.
Tools Needed to Organize Your Briefcase
- 10" x 13" Envelopes
Step One: Empty Your Briefcase
Take everything out of your briefcase and group like items together:
- Computer Accessories - thumb drives, power cords, chargers
- Pens and Pencils
- Office Supplies - paper clips, binder clips, sticky pads, rubber bands
- Business Cards - both yours and ones you've received
Step Two: Evaluate Your Briefcase
The ideal one includes:
- A separate compartment for your laptop, iPad or other portable computer.
- Several sections for files and full-size notepads.
- Various pockets and zippered compartments.
Step Three: Small-Sized Storage Solutions
Decide where within your briefcase you are going to store small or odd-sized items. For example:
- One pocket for pens, pencils, and highlighters. You don't need to carry an entire office supply store with you. Two or three pens and pencils and one or two highlighters are sufficient.
- One pocket for your business cards.
- One pocket where you temporarily house business cards you receive from others.
- A pocket or pouch for ancillary office supplies such as paperclips, binder clips, rubber bands and sticky notes. Again, keep these supplies to a minimum. You'll only be away from your office for a few hours, and you'll have the opportunity to replenish your supply at the end of the day.
- A pocket or pouch for computer supplies such as chargers and thumb drives.
One you determine the ideal, separate location for each category described above, be consistent. Put pens and pencils back in the same pocket after each use. If you find it necessary to use your thumb drive during the day, put it back in the appropriate pocket or pouch. This takes discipline but it's the key to keeping your briefcase neat and organized.
Step Four: Purge the Paper
The only paper or files that should be in your briefcase at any one time include:
- Files for today's meetings or appointments.
- One or two files for ongoing projects you might work on during the day in between meetings and appointments.
- One or two notepads
- A Day Planner or Portfolio Pad (if applicable)
Include a 10" x 13" envelope for receipts that need to be expensed. As you drop a receipt into the envelope, make a note on the front that includes the date, expense amount and reason for the expense. When it comes time to file your expense report, you'll have all the information you need organized and in one place.
Ongoing Maintenance: How to Organize Your Briefcase and Keep it Organized
At the end of each day:
- Remove all of today's files from your briefcase and add the files you will need for tomorrow's client appointments and meetings.
- Remove the business cards you collected today and add them to your contact management system.
- Replenish your personal business card supply if necessary.
- Replenish your office supplies and notepads if necessary.
- Walk into your meetings or appointments the next day knowing that your organized briefcase will help you make a great impression.