When Your Office Is on the Run

When your office is mobile, it has to be efficient. Use these simple organizing tips to keep your papers at your fingertips and your mode of transportation neat as a pin!

• Get papers under control by creating an on-the-go filing system. Whether you office out of your car or just need to have lots of information at your fingertips, create a simple filing system. Your local office supply store has a variety of portable, lidded file boxes, or use a simple plastic crate. Label hanging file folders with broad categories, and slide important papers in the correct spots. Or, if traveling by air or train, invest in an expandable briefcase. Make sure to have extra folders and labels so you can create new files on the run.

• Stock a smaller, lidded box or zippered case (try clear cosmetic bags or small Ziploc bags) with essential office supplies. Include pens, sticky notes, paper, note cards, envelopes, and stamps. Don’t forget business cards, brochures, and any other company literature. Or keep an empty cup in one of the cup holders for pens and pencils. Always pack your supplies in the same area of your box or bag. Before you leave, give it a once-over to make sure it’s well stocked.

• Dedicate an envelope to hold business-related receipts. Empty it out once each week. Don’t forget to keep a mileage log tucked into your visor or door pocket if you need to track miles.

• Always have a box of thank-you notes and envelopes on hand to write on the go. Also include postage stamps and return address labels. And bring company promotional materials, including extra business cards, just in case.

• If you have a laptop computer, store as much information on it as you can, e.g., phone numbers, calendars, and client information. This will limit the hard copy materials you’ll need to lug around.

• Keep reading material together in one file. When you find yourself waiting for an appointment, take that opportunity to catch up on the latest industry news. Or, clean out your briefcase while waiting for the train or plane.

• Consider some specialty car organizers. Discount stores offer a variety of them, such as back-of-the-seat organizers, visor organizers for CDs, and auto tray tables. Front-seat mobile office organizers are also available from several manufacturers like Case Logic®.

• Make sure you don’t forget brilliant ideas. Stash a small hard-cover notebook to catch those moments. Or, to keep your eyes on the road, use a voice recorder or call your voice mail and leave reminders there.

• Toss it out and tidy up. Keep a nylon or plastic garbage bag in the car so messes get cleaned up as you go. Take five minutes at the end of each day to empty the bag and tidy up the entire vehicle. This small investment of time will prevent the need for a longer clean-up later.