GON Organizing Articles
Featured Article Paper Clutter…4 Options to Begin Clearing it by Maria Gracia How many times do you pick up a sheet of paper before you act on it? The reality is that when most folks get a sheet of paper in their hands, they put it down to deal with later, they pick it up again when it resurfaces, they put it back down to handle at another time…and this could repeat many times over. Sometimes a single sheet of paper can be handled 10 or more times before any action is taken on it. This is one of the reasons why paper piles build…and paper quickly grows into a clutter monster. Want to see if you’re spending a lot of time paper shuffling? When you pick up a sheet of paper, make a dot on it with a red pen. Every time you pick up the paper after that, dot it again. Once your paper looks like it has the measles, you’ll be able to see the inefficiency that may be occurring. To help eliminate paper shuffling and to keep paper clutter to a minimum, start with the 4 D’s of Effective Paper Management. Every time you pick up a sheet of paper, make one of these four decisions: DO IT. Perform the necessary actions on this sheet of paper NOW. Once you’ve completed these items, the paper should be filed (only if you absolutely need to keep for reference), re-routed to someone else, or recycled. DELAY IT. Further action needs to be taken on this paper, but not right now…or you may just have to keep it for legal reasons (like your taxes for the past 7 years). File “active” papers (meaning you have to take an action on this paper) in a Current Projects file or 31-Day Tickler System. File “archive” papers (meaning you have to keep it for reference, proof, or legal reasons) in your filing cabinet. (Don’t file in a TO DO tray…these can get out of hand rather quickly.) If needed, write a date and time on your calendar when you’ll be retrieving this paper (and the file folder it’s in) for further action so it’s not forgotten about. DELEGATE/DELIVER IT. If this paper doesn’t belong to you, or someone else can take the action on it, immediately give this paper to the appropriate person. DUMP IT. Most paper that we keep is NEVER looked at again. Recycle all obvious junk…advertising you’re not going to use, catalogs you don’t plan to purchase from, old schedules, old TO DO lists, outdated calendars, etc. As far as paperwork from organizations or companies, if you can easily access the information online, don’t keep the paper version unless you need to keep the originals for legal or tax reasons. The less volume of paper you have, the less paper clutter and paper shuffling you’ll have to deal with.
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