We have all been in offices or homes where plies of paper are stacked high on every available surface, including the floor. Stacks of paper, drawers full of paper, boxes of paper, rooms full of paper are taking over our lives. Lets take back our lives and our time!
Wasn’t the invention of the computer supposed to decrease the amount of paper we use? It didn’t! The average office worker handles over 10,000 pieces of paper every month! Even people who are somewhat organized can have difficulty keeping up with the sheer volume of paper.
Paper clutter is about not knowing what to do with the paper when you receive it, or what to do with the paper while you are performing tasks generated by the paper, and what to do with the paper when you are through with it.
Many have heard the advice to handle a piece of paper only once. Most of the time this is not practical or even possible to do unless you throw out the piece of paper.
The advice that has worked best for my clients is to advance the paper forward one step every time you handle it, until the paper can be filed or tossed. It is also much more time effective to group activities together whenever possible. For instance if you need to make copies throughout the day, rather than jumping up from your desk every few minutes, use a file folder and make copies a few times a day. Fewer trips to the copier can save you both time and energy.
Everyone has a system for handling paperwork, the key is whether the system is working, or not! Some systems are very complicated, but complicated paper handling systems are time-consuming and it is unlikely that you will keep using it, or only use it sometimes.
Five Paper Handling Tips:
Have the following within easy reach:
a garbage bin
a paper recycle container
a shredding container
Play the game “get rid of as much paper as possible”.
Reduce the amount of paper and junk mail that you receive.
When you pick up a piece of paper your goal is to advance it forward at least one step closer to being completed.
There are several action choices that can be taken for each piece of paper:
Schedule time to handle the paperwork and not let it pile up.
Whatever system you choose to use you will want to adapt it to your own personal needs and style.
Start with the most current papers and piles of paper first.
Action Folder Tips: To get started you will need several file folders, marking pens and a stair-step file rack or other file holder.
Locate the file rack with-in arms reach of where you sit at your desk of where you sort the paperwork and mail at home.
Clearly mark file folders in large bold writing – use action words, for example.
Add more folders according to actions that you frequently perform.
If you have partners or an assistant that items need to go to, then make folders up for them too that say “To Patty”, or “To Jim”. They can check the folders for items when you are out of the office, or you can hand the folder contents to them when they walk in.
These ideas can be adapted for roommates, spouses and children in your home.
Once you set up a system some minor adjustments might be needed. The important thing is to NOT let the piles of paper start gathering again. Let’s get our papers organized and take back our lives from the piles of paper!