Top Ten Tips for Organizing Your Paper Files
Did you know that the average executive spends six weeks per year retrieving or replacing lost documents? Naturally, it makes sense to create a system that is quick and easy so you can save that lost time. Here are some ideas to get it done now once you have The Paper Tiger. If you don’t have The Paper Tiger now, download this link to get started. Here are the top ten tips I recommend:
1 Look at the “hot spot of files”. You know the pile that seems the most urgent and makes your stomach churn every time you look at it. Take the paperwork and make a decision on each piece and separate into four piles:
a Reference, those items you need, just not right now
b Action, current projects, ongoing projects
c Toss, you know where those are going
d Timed, you need these on a specific date.
2 When deciding on whether to file something or throw it away, ask yourself if how difficult would it be to find this information again? Does it have any legal or financial ramifications if you were to throw it away? If you can live with the answer of throwing it away after those thoughts, let it go.
3 Set up the Paper Tiger Filing System Software and Document Management, an indexing system that works like a search engine for paper files to help you get organized and stay organized. It’s essentially creating an inventory for all of your files.
4 Use names that you will be able to recall easily. The obvious file names that you’ve used in the past. Then the interesting thing is with The Paper Tiger is that will also be able to add keywords into the database so that any name you think of when you need to find a file, the software will be able to tell you where it is in seconds. So in the case of “Auto” the Item Name would be “Ford Explorer”, and in the keywords section, you would input the name of the company, i.e., “Vehicle, Car”, possible the name of the dealer, the service person’s name, etc., and you might use “Personal” in the Category section.
5 Oftentimes, people receive notices of an event and they never know what to do with the postcard. Set up a monthly filing system (a Tickler File) to keep track of when to throw them away. Create 12 hanging file folders, one for each month. As you rsvp or pull the information for “dress code” or directions. When the day rolls around, you can retrieve it for a reminder. This will ensure that you never miss an event or an expiration date on an rsvp or offer.
6 When sorting through paperwork make a decision. If you’re not in a decision-making mood, have a place set up for “unprocessed paperwork”. Then when you’re ready, if you need to take action, do it now or place it in the appropriate action file. If someone else needs to attend to it, give it to them. If it is something to reference later on, add it to a reference file and place it there. Putting it back in the pile to address later is no longer an option for you as an organized person.
7 When you have a lot of tasks to do for the day, quickly sort the tasks in order of importance. Do what is most profitable or important to you first, then move on from there. Therefore, if you only have a little bit of time you will be addressing the most critical issues first. All other tasks need to be scheduled for the when it makes sense. This final step is critical otherwise you’ll be starting a new pile.
8 Print out reports of what you have inventoried in your filing system, place a folder in the front of each door labeled “File Index”. Having a quick and easy reference when you don’t want to open your computer makes it easier to find quickly.
9 Get into a maintenance habit of printing out a report of all of your files, quarterly or no less often than annually, and identify what you no longer need and purge or create steps to archive via off site store or scanning.
10.Finally, create a time management habit. Take 10-15 minutes every morning looking at your priorities, including your Actions within your Paper Tiger system and pulling files from your Tickler File. Do the same thing each evening by placing all documents collected through the day back into your systems.
Congratulations on your progress, if you haven’t done it yet. Set up your Paper Tiger system now and get started. As you go throughout your day, keep in mind the task at hand and focus on completing that one task. Remember that “things don’t clutter, people clutter”. When we make simple decisions and take action, we can improve the quality of our life at work and at home.
480-442-2014 – Arizona
Anne McGurty is CEO of Strategize & Organize, a company devoted to training individual’s to be more effective with the tools and resources to be productive in their work environment.
If you liked these tips, Anne is a dynamic strategist. She can help you organize your business — and yourself — ranging from consulting to keynote speaking and corporate training programs to improve efficiencies in the workplace and improve productivity.
While Anne is best known for her expertise in productivity and expert office organizing, her clients share that her biggest impact comes from her philosophy of “personalizing her programs to fit the needs of her clients so they can streamline more efficiently with existing processes” – ensuring to create a sustainable work environment. This, Anne says, is the most important key to bringing an individual to personal freedom with time and organization.
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