There is little, if anything, more stressful than walking into your office and seeing a mountain of paper. Reducing the volume of paper will certainly help. Below are strategies to help reduce that mountain into a smaller, more manageable, system.  

1. Start with a general sort. Resist the temptation to act on anything you touch. Make decisions as quickly as possible. Sort into:

Action: Items that require an action, such as making a phone call, doing research, sending an email or making a purchase. If like most of us, you have a stack of bills to pay, create a separate pile for these, using one large category labeled ‘To Pay.’

File:  Items to access later or items that you need to keep that have no pending action steps.

Shred:  Items with private or transactable information go into the shred pile. Consider shredding sensitive information like financial and medical data.

Recycle: Any items that don’t need shredding go into the recycle pile. Include envelopes, white or colored office paper, newspapers, cardboard, magazines and catalogs in this pile. Some municipalities require that you separate white and color paper.

Action folders in an open-top file box.
Create an Easy-to-Maintain Action System

2. Create an Action System. An Action System consists of piles of action items like ‘To Do’, ‘To Pay’, ‘To Purchase’, ‘To Call’, ‘To Decide’, and ‘To Follow Up On’. Consider using a vertical tickler file system to corral these files and make them visible.

3. Follow-up: Immediately put all recycling into the recycle bin or your car. If you have a shredder and your quantity of shredding is small, shred all items in the ‘Shred’ pile. If you have a large amount of shredding, bag the shredding and take to your local shred center. If possible, find one that will shred while-you-watch.

The remainder of the papers will be your ‘To File’ pile. Stay tuned next time for the basics of setting up a filing system.

Desk area after being organized by The Time Butler

Lisa Mark, C.P.O.® knows how to guide you through the organizing process, help you make decisions and provide options for flow and productivity. Have a large project? She will bring in team members to ensure it is completed as quickly as possible.

Contact Lisa today to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. The call should take no more than 15-20 minutes of your time.

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