Drowning in Paper – Part I
photo credit racham
Is paper processing one of your major problems? My email leads me to suspect this is the case, so I’m going to be re-visiting that section from How To Be Organized in Spite of Yourself.
When you’re not sure what to do with incoming papers they usually start piling up and you begin to worry that there’s something in there that you’ve forgotten about that is going to “get” you. While it’s true that some productive people deliberately stack their papers on their desks, and know what and where everything is, most people operate better without mile-high piles that make finding things an exercise in frustration.
Generally, when people call me in to help organize their paperwork, they explain their accumulations with:
“I had no place to put this, so it’s here temporarily.” or
“I’m afraid I’ll forget to do this if I don’t leave it out.” or
“I may need this in the future so I’ve stuck it here.”
Behind these paperwork-crisis statements is a problem of decision-making. My clients are really saying:
“I can’t handle this right now. What should I do with it?” or
“I don’t have the answer to this. What should I do with it?” or
“I just finished with this. What should I do with it?”
Every paper that lands on your desk has to go somewhere or be acted upon in some way, so you need to form the habit of sorting whatever comes in. The advantage of sorting is that the next time you have to find something, you (usually) won’t have to go through every piece of paper. You’ll only have to go through the pile in the category where it would have been placed.
In my next post I’ll present a simple, basic sorting system that will put you back in control of your paperwork and ensure that you stay that way.