Making a living by LMcK2008.

photo credit LMcK2008

You know when you have too much paper. The weight of it can be enormous.

The following is a simple, basic sorting system. Begin by labeling seven containers or designated areas:

– Incoming               – To File

– Outgoing                – To Read

– Trash                       – To Do

                                    – Pending

Select a basket or tray, or designate one corner of your desk as your INCOMING spot. Unless you specifically authorize it, nothing coming into your office goes anywhere else. Sit at your desk with your Incoming pile in front of you. As you work your way down the pile (or up if it’s been a long time since you’ve done this), ask yourself of each individual paper, “What is this? What do I intend to do with it?” Your answer to these questions will tell you where to put it. (If you like, you can follow the diagram on page 134 of How To Be Organized In Spite Of Yourself.

Remember: Once you take a paper out of your Incoming box, never put it back. Always forward it at least one step by putting it in the appropriate category. And one more suggestion: To be sure your To Do container does not turn into a permanent residence for your paperwork, go through it on a regular basis and prioritize what needs to be done. When you do this, either (1) arrange the papers themselves as your reminder of what needs to be done; or (2) decide what action the paper requires you to take and enter that on your prioritized To Do list. Then place the original paper in a separate To Do folder of papers that are awaiting action as you move forward on your List.

Of course as soon as you finish processing one batch of paperwork, more comes in with the tide. It may help to take yourself off of mailng lists, screen to eliminate the junk and transmit messages verbally whenever possible.

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