When it comes to figuring out how to organize papers, what are your roadblocks?
The main factors that I find with my clients when they’re in a less than desirable paper situation are:
1) They haven’t set aside daily or weekly time to process their papers
2) Their file cabinets are full, so they don’t have a place to file papers
3) If they’re scanning, they put off the scanning until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
4) They don’t have file folders (paper or digital) set up to accept what they need to file.
How do you get past these roadblocks so you can learn how to organize papers?
If your diagnosis is #1, determine how many times per week you need to process paper and block that time out on the calendar. That’s right. Make an appointment with yourself on the calendar. If you haven’t been processing paper on a regular basis in the past, you probably won’t suddenly begin doing it just because you’re thinking about it while reading this article. Get it on your calendar.
If your diagnosis is #2, guess what you need to do? Yes, you need to set aside some time to have a purge party. Can you browse one file per day and get rid of what you don’t need? Or would you prefer to block off a chunk of time and work on half a drawer at a time? Whatever your preference is, make that appointment with yourself to get this done.
If your diagnosis is #3, do you see a pattern in #1 and #2? Mmm hmmm. Calendar. Appointment. Now. Or if you’re not scanning because you don’t know how to use your scanner, make an appointment with yourself to watch or read a tutorial.
If your diagnosis is #4, sit down and map out a list of your top 10 categories. You don’t want too many. If you have 100 folders, it’ll take you forever to decide which file to use. Keep it simple. The fewer major categories, the better. And when will you do this? When you set an appointment with yourself to do this.
Let’s face it, there are a million other things you’d probably rather do than deal with your paper. That’s why you haven’t dealt with the paper yet. If you view learning how to organize papers as a blah activity, think of your paper project as a road to peace for you. Whether it’s ten minutes at a time or one hour at a time, you’ll be chipping away at something that’s been subconsciously bothering you. Go ahead. Give yourself the gift of peace. You deserve it.
If you need additional assistance, check out Chapter 12 in my book, The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer. It’s time to get those papers organized once and for all!