Have you been hiding your paper from your family friends and self? I bet you are. It’s usually in bags and boxes stuffed in the closet to get it out of the way when someone is coming over, or because you needed that space for something else to happen. Then months later it’s still there and now the closet is full and you can’t hang up your coat.
It’s the paper found under the desk and in the drawers. Every time you think about getting organized it’s the first thing that pops to mind. It’s the 80% of the paper you own and simply don’t actually need to keep and not dealing with it is the same as throwing it away, because you still don’t have a way to access it.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by the prospect of filing it all, create a new mind set and a system that will help you never have to scoop and dump your paper again. It’s quite easy and can be done a little at a time. This is another one of those incremental improvements that provides exponential results.
Here are the 3 things to have in place in order to deal with the backlog of paper.
1. Set up a place to keep your vital records. Have that be the only place you keep them. Yes it is as easy as saying this folder, box, drawer, bin, bag, leather bound document holder, safe, or basket will be the place I keep all the records that prove who I am and how I relate to the government.
2. Set up a place to keep the papers about your current items. This typically looks like a file system. However, it can be in binders, or just a couple of piles. What is important here is to work with your natural tendencies and keep it as easy as possible. Fewer categories is better than too many. Mirror the categories from your desk – bills and correspondence, projects, contacts, lists – and establish a plan keeping this system current, and archiving what you must keep longer and a holding spot for temporary papers with a quick expiration date.
3. Set up a separate place for any documents about your interests and hobbies. The articles you clip and instructions for projects are not “needed” in the same way so the rotation plan will be different and having it separate will make it easier to maintain. Again, a defined space is more important than the shape of that place.
Now as you go through and purge one bag at a time you know where to put the stuff you keep. Just remember, there is very little that you have to keep so make liberal use of the trash/recycle/shred station you set up last time.
If you would like a copy of my super handy “Vital Document” list just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send it to you.