Yes, Monday, January 14th is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. Did you know that the #1 reason that people call us for services in person is PAPER?
Whether you are a filer or a piler, managing your paper has only gotten more difficult in the last ten-to-twenty years. We all thought we’d have a "paperless office," but the advent of computers has just made things worse. We now send e-mails but then we print them…and we can create something instantly that would have taken us a week to send off to the print shop when we were growing up.
Here are three simple secrets to effective and efficient paper management to help you clean off your desk:
- Learn to identify papers quickly. A skill that is often overlooked is the ability to actually know WHAT a paper is. Cultivate your "skimming" skills so you can look over a paper quickly and understand it. What does this piece of paper want from you? For example: "This is an insurance paper. They want me to reply to confirm the details of my accident by February 3rd."
- Be decisive. (Read my previous post entitled, "You Should Probably Be More Decisive, I Think") Shuffling papers around results from not making decisions about the paper. I don’t necessarily believe in the "Only Handle It Once" rule– just that you should DECIDE about it once. Is there action required, and if so, what is that action? Put similar actions together, like Calls, Bills, etc.
- Identify a trigger. When you have identified an action for a particular piece of paper, don’t go on to the next one until you have thought through what your TRIGGER is for that action to take place. How are you going to remember to do this later? Should you put it on your calendar? Put it in a tickler file? Should you put it next to your car keys? Maybe make a task reminder pop up in Outlook? Use a sticky note somewhere strategic? Whatever works for you… make sure your solution is foolproof so your brain can let go of that information and relax.
Our paid Clutter Diet members are working on some great home office projects in the next few weeks to put these skills to good use. Also, for more great productivity and paper tips, see my good friend Susan Sabo’s blog at Productivity Cafe.
Now, go clean off your desk! 😉 Check back here and comment to let us know what you got done.