Do you know why people spend thousands of dollars on professional closet organizers? Because unless you legitimately enjoy arranging your shirts by sleeve length and cataloguing your shoes by color, organizing a space is a total drag. The problem is that organization really does make life so much easier. And sometimes you just can’t put it off any longer — even if you’d rather do literally anything else. But whereas trying to find something in a cluttered closet may make you late to lunch, a messy packing and shipping area can cause shipment delays. And an annoyed friend is way more likely to accept your apology than an annoyed customer. Don’t let a disorganized packing and shipping area cost you money. Here are a few ways you can tidy up your packing and shipping station.
Break It Down
When faced with an unfun task (like rearranging your packing and shipping space) it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed. But if you feel too overwhelmed, you may psych yourself out and never actually get going. Don’t think about organizing as one giant project. Break it down into smaller individual chores. For example, start by collecting all of the markers and pens and put them in a pencil cup. Boom — check that one off the list.
Plan, Prepare, Prioritize
Maybe you’re not interested in starting small and just want to dive in. More power to you! But you still need a plan of attack. Consider which duties will require the most effort to complete. My mom always says, “Worst first.” In other words, get the most time-consuming tasks finished first. That way, all you’ll have left is the little jobs that are much easier to take care of. Also take the time to identify which tasks depend on the conclusion of others. Don’t organize all of the boxes and envelopes if you have nowhere to put them until some other part of the packing and shipping space has been decluttered.
Cork Boards and Pegboards Are Your Friends
Ideally, every important piece of information you need would be in a digital format. But if you prefer to have hard copies, they shouldn’t be spread out across the packing and shipping area. Instead, attach a cork board to the wall next to the shipping and packing station. Pin time-sensitive announcements and important updates where everyone can see them at a glance.
In a similar vein, a pegboard is a great way to keep the most frequently-used tools readily accessible. Hang items such as tape rolls, tape guns, scissors, and tape measures within arm’s reach of the shipping and packing space. Most importantly, make sure those tools go right back to the pegboard when not in use. Otherwise, what’s the point? Pegboards don’t really add much in the way of aesthetics.
Even if you’re gung-ho to get everything completed in one day, there’s no guarantee you will. And if you don’t, you may forget where you were in the process when you return. Or if someone else takes over the project, they probably won’t know what has been taken care of or what you’re working on. As a result, they might end up redoing a job you’ve already finished or accidentally negating the progress of a task you were in the middle of.
To keep things on track and avoid repeat work, make a list of each task in the order it needs to be done. This list should be saved as a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet so anyone can access the most up-to-date version. If there’s a chore you started but couldn’t finish, make a note beside it. Then, your colleague (or your future self) will know exactly which task is next in the queue.
Revisit Your Reorganization
Clutter has a way of creeping up slowly. Before you know it, your packing and shipping station once again looks like a disaster area. Cleaning up your packing and shipping space shouldn’t be an annual or even quarterly project. You need to regularly confirm the packing and shipping station is still neat. It’s easy to fall back into bad habits — e.g., not taking the time to put tools back where they belong. And you don’t want to see all of your work undone in a matter of weeks.
Remember how you created that list of every organization duty? When the time comes to revisit the process, you’ll know exactly which tasks were completed and how they were done. If over time you realize one of the updates seemed to do more harm than good, you can take it off the list when you begin the next round of decluttering.
One final note: obviously, how your packing and shipping area is organized is important. But you can’t focus only on reducing inconvenience by making sure supplies and tools are properly put away. You need to also ensure using the packing and shipping station in general isn’t an inconvenience. If the temperature in the warehouse fluctuates dramatically, make sure there is a space heater or fan nearby. Also ensure there is plenty of light to make it easier to find supplies and tools. Uncomfortable employees are less likely to care about the organization of the packing and shipping area if they’re drenched in sweat or bundled up like an Eskimo.
- Callie Hinman is the Content Marketer & Writer at ShipStation, a leading provider of shipping software for ecommerce fulfillment. Callie holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas and is staunchly committed to following Ann Handley’s Rule of FIWTSBS (“Find Interesting Ways to Say Boring Stuff”).