Most everyone finds it challenging to keep track of the sheer bulk of paper even in this electronic age. If you are not happy with the mess of paper on your desk or if you can’t find what you need quickly, you may be delaying making decisions. These tips will help guide you through the maze.
First, schedule several hours of non-work time to organize papers in your office.
Clear a workspace area for sorted papers.
Follow the F.A.T. System for sorting paper, notebooks, files, and binders.
- File: “F” stands for File. Label one of your boxes “File” and sort the following into it:
— Keep active to-do’s close at hand
— Move files used less often to other areas.
- Act: “A” stands for Action. Designate a box for Action items and use it for papers on which you need to do something (e.g., send an email, process a file, make a phone call, discuss with someone, etc.). This means that you perform the necessary items on this piece of paper TODAY. Once you’ve completed these items, the paper should be filed, re-routed to someone else or discarded.
- Toss: “T” stands for toss. Be brutal. Can it be retrieved again? Is it out-of-date? Does someone else have the information? Purge, purge, purge.
Imagine doing this same process daily except, of course, on a much smaller scale.
Now you’ll have control of your paper instead of it controlling you!