Lab Manager Academy: The Cost of Disorganization… Can You Afford It?

By Patty Kreamer

For most, being organized means “a place for everything and everything in its place,” but the true definition of being organized is being able to find things when you need them, not three weeks later.

If you ask me, being organized means saving BIG money. Simply put, time is money. If you waste time all day long looking for things, you are wasting money.

If you spend an average of just five minutes of every hour of an eight hour day looking for things, that adds up to over four weeks per year (166+ hours). This adds up quickly when you take each employee’s hourly rate of pay and multiply it by 166 hours per year. Yet we often spend hours looking for things.

So what can be done to eliminate most of this wasted time?


For starters, if you aren’t as organized as you’d like to be, you have to look inside yourself and explore WHY you are not organized. By understanding your nature, you can learn to work WITH your habits instead of AGAINST them. Here are a few examples of these habits:

  • You might need it someday!
  • If you can’t see it, you forget it.
  • You have too much stuff !


Next, you have to take the time to look at your space and map out what you want the space to look like when you are done BEFORE you touch the first piece of clutter. Here are some things you’ll need to do in this step:

  • Define the activity for the room.
  • Have a realistic time schedule.
  • Have the URGE TO PURGE.


Finally, you get to declutter by sorting and putting away in a methodical fashion. In order to make the paper clutter go away, a simple process is necessary. When it comes to papers and office clutter, I recommend theE.A.S.Y. system. There are only four things you can do with a piece of paper:

Eliminate It
Act on It
Send It Away
You File It

If you create four piles that correspond to the E.A.S.Y. system as you sort, decision-making becomes more concise and narrow.

Most skip the READY and SET steps and just start to tear into the clutter, but they don’t develop any longlasting systems. This Band-Aid® will only last a short while before clutter begins to creep back into your life.

The bad news is that getting organized takes time and commitment. It has to be on your list of priorities for it to really become achievable.

The good news is that getting organized is simple if done methodically. An additional bit of good news is that it pays off. Organization provides a less stressful work environment, boosts morale, increases productivity and positively affects the bottom line.

Can you afford to be disorganized? Schedule the time to declutter, and soon you’ll be inspired to continue because you’ll feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders!

Patty Kreamer, Certified Professional Organizer® and owner of Kreamer Connect, Inc., provides speaking, coaching and consulting services to businesses and organizations that value effective practices that will leave their people more efficient, empowered and proud of their accomplishments. Patty’s books, …But I Might Need It Someday and The Power of Simplicity are available for purchase at

If you missed Patty Kreamer’s Lab Manager Academy webinar “But I Might Need it Someday - How to be Organized in the Lab”, originally broadcast on Wednesday May 4, 2011, visit to watch the archived video.

Categories: Business Management

Published In

Laboratory Etiquette Magazine Issue Cover
Laboratory Etiquette

Published: May 9, 2011

Cover Story

Laboratory Etiquette

Many lab managers still remember them from their student days—a handful of hastily stapled printouts sternly titled “Laboratory etiquette—Acceptable standards of conduct.” Those were rules to live by, and the smallest violation landed a budding laboratory scientist in front of the ticked-off chief instructor.