Organizing the Executive: Create a Reference Library

Executive Organizing

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One of the things we organizers are frequently accused of is trying to throw away important items. However, I would like to counter that we organizers want you to have information that you need, readily available, and pertinent to the situation. This is especially true for Executive offices. And one of the most helpful ways to organize that information is by creating a reference library.

Most executives that I have worked with tend to 1) have large amounts of information at their disposal and 2) have very little knowledge of what or where specific items are kept. Most tend to form piles on the floor/desk/cabinet and hope that they will be able to retrieve it when necessary.

Organizing Executives

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{Create a Library} So in order to create a more organized office and offer a new way of finding information, I would recommend creating a reference library. The information included would not be vital for running your business; it wouldn’t fall under the categories of administration, accounts receivable, accounts payable, or human resources. Those items would be kept with your business filing system. Nor is it meant to be a reminder based filing system (more on tickler filing systems here). But it is information you would like to keep for reference.

{Categorize Information} Example reference categories could include basic industry information, research on potential clients/products/services, statistics, or technological information.  The main point is to collect information and house it in such a way to make it accessible to those who need it. This might mean using a cloud based storage system like Dropbox for a company with multiple locations or frequently traveling executives. Or it could mean converting a closet into a reference center for books, files, and trade journals.

{Filing Index} And just as a library has a “card catalog” make sure to create an index that lists the reference files and their location. This could be as simple as writing down topics and posting on the inside of a filing cabinet drawer, to a more complex document management system like M-files DMS 9.0.

Think of the time you’ll save with this reference system since “The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information in messy desks and files.” The Wall Street Journal/Esselte Study.


2 thoughts on “Organizing the Executive: Create a Reference Library

  1. dragonflyzia

    Thanks Kristin, after looking at that photo of that man in his paper chaos…..I don’t feel so unorganized! 🙂 At work every single thing has its place and I am super organized, at home is another story, but I am working on it. Thanks for the inspiration.


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