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Unstuffed


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POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2009

Morgan Casement was accustomed to working at the hub of chaos. The main office at Camp Erdman in Mokuleia had become a dumping ground for piles of paper, a meeting space for everyone—in all, an inefficient workspace.

The office recently received a face lift, although the way Casement describes it, it was an entire body overhaul.

Camp Erdman received an office remodel by a team of organizers led by Ellyn Sollars of the Hawaii Association of Professional Organizers, courtesy of the Non-Profit Makeover Contest.

"The main office is a dumping zone," said Casement, the camp's assistant conference director. "There is something going on here 24/7, 365 days a year. The Xerox machine and fax center was in the middle of the room, which was distracting during meetings. People were always coming in to pick up stuff."

Before the makeover staff arrived, Casement's job was to remove clutter and find new homes for things that needed to be saved.

"Clutter and paperwork was scattered throughout the room," said Sollars. The makeover crew taught the staff that "clutter is the result of decisions unmade."

Papers were cleared and filed using "hot-action" folders created with a product called the Oxford Decoflex, a desktop box filled with hanging folders labeled "to call," "to reply," "to file," etc. All incoming mail and documents are filed immediately into the box.

"It looks like a real office now," said Casement. "When people come in to make inquiries, they have a place to sit down."

One of the biggest obstacles to the process was the fax and copy center. "We felt like we needed to establish zones within the office," said Karen Simon, of HAPO.

The large-volume copier and all of the cases of paper and related supplies were moved into what was once a storage closet, Simon said. "We also added mailroom slots to the walls in that room to minimize the confusion of camp counselors searching for their incoming mail."

The reorganization has helped alleviate unwanted traffic in the center of the office, Casement said. "Things don't get dropped on my desk as much. I'm also trying to train myself to deal with the piles before leaving the office at the end of the day."

"We are trying to change the way that they think about their stuff," Simon said. "If they can take the principles and apply them to the stuff we are organizing, hopefully they can stay organized. They can go back into their homes and do the same process. It will permeate throughout their life."

The teachings have already rubbed off, Casement said, and the staff is looking at other areas that need organization. "They gave us the first step. Now it's up to us to use the tips. It's my job to remind people about where things belong," she said. "When things are more organized, it makes things more positive."

For organizing tips or to locate a professional organizer, visit www.hapoonline.org.