Put Your Papers & Mind to Rest - Organize For Productivity, Profit and Peace-of-Mind (Part3)
If you followed my advice, described step-by-step, in my previous article (Part2), you may now be looking at 3 boxes filled with paper documents. One, labeled Actions, one for References and the one labeled Toss. Oh yes, you may also have discovered the color of your desk. Doesn't it look great? Hasn't your stress level dropped already a few notches?
The content of the "blue-box" (Toss) should be put to REST. Recycled, Eliminated, Shredded or Tossed. Remember: confidential documents or papers, containing sensitive personal information, are best disposed by shredding. Beware of identity theft!
Are you ready to file? Well, almost. Setting up an effective filing system will be critical. You don't just want to put documents out of sight. You also want to be able to retrieve them quickly, often within seconds. Here lies the challenge. Most people use either an alphabetic system, or one, based on descriptive categories. Sometimes, a combination of both. Either way, you are relying on your memory to recall where a certain document is located. Needless to say, our overloaded and overworked brain cells don't always click for a perfect recall. So, we end up searching and looking (maybe even cursing) until we find that lousy piece of paper. If we do at all!
Fortunately, for most of us, we have computers. They have vastly "better" memories and capabilities when it comes to retrieving information. For those, who can't or won't use computers, I will suggest some alternate approaches in a later article.
Now, back to setting up our filing system. Let's start with our Action box. It contains papers, which will fit into one of two categories: Repetitive Actions and Temporary Activities (Projects). The References box contains all those documents, which you decided to keep for a specific reason.
Examples of Repetitive Actions: Pay bills, Calls, Data entry, Calendar entry, Faxing, Copying, Reading, Writing, Pending (yes, it's also a legitimate action!), etc. These are typically actions, which may recur periodically or at different times. Temporary Activities (Projects), in turn, are being worked on and off, and completed over a longer period of time (weeks or months).
The above two categories of documents should, ideally, be located in, or near your desk / workstation. I recommend the use red-colored hanging folders labeled with the actions as described above.
You are ready to start filing. This is the point, when you need to consider the method by which you will be able to find where a certain document is located. If you are planning to take advantage of the power of the computer to "remember", you will require "key-words". If you are going to stick with a traditional (alphabetic) filing system, you will need to think of the categories by which you will name your files.