Paper is a BIG category for most of us, so let's stay with it this week. Even if you have tidied up, papers have a way of piling up again - and quickly! If you follow the KonMari Method's three rules of storage, you will be less likely to rebound to paper clutter. I mentioned these rules in my last post and I'll reiterate them in this post and add a few of my own tips to help even more! Remember, if you're an Executive / Administrative Assistant, I've sat in your chair and I know what it's like! Information comes in fast and furiously and containing it becomes a challenge. Learning to contain it is a win!
- Categorize every paper down to the last sheet. Sort you papers into CLEAR categories. Use whatever system works best for you. This is key. Lisa's Pro-Tip: The categories and labels you choose to use for your own files should make sense to you. This applies to physical and digital files. A note to Admins: We tend to fall into a trap of labeling in a very conventional way, which may not necessarily sync with the way we think. You want to set your categories and labels in whatever way helps you find things fast to enhance your efficiency. Examples are: presentations, project proposals, reports, invoices OR sort by dates, projects, names OR design ideas, management ideas, or "documents to keep and remember."
- Store your papers upright. We already talked about piling papers and how you might forget what's on the bottom of the stack when you do this. If you are always asking yourself, "Where did that file go?", this could be what's happening. For optimal efficiency, store papers in a hanging-file system or in separate folders in upright filing boxes placed on a shelf. Always take the time to label your file folders. This is a critical step to maintaining your paper system. The best way to label is black print on a white label. Use a printer or label maker. Lisa's Pro-Tip: If you are short on time and are inclined to let this step go, don't! Instead, write your label's name in permanent black marker on a square post-it (super-sticky works best) and stick it to the file folder temporarily until you have time to create a permanent label.
- Make a pending box. Let's take a closer look at the pending box you created for papers that need action. It should be an upright filing box that contains only those papers that you need to deal with on that day. The purpose of the upright box is so that you can clearly see how many papers need processing. When you've processed those papers, discard / shred those that don't need to be kept and file those that do. Sometimes, especially due to lack of time, we have a tendency to put papers to file in a pile or in a "to file" bin or file folder. Lisa's Pro-Tip: Resist the temptation to do this and try instead to file your papers right away. Your filing system is set up for this now, with clear filing categories and labels. Take those extra few seconds / minutes to file necessary paper immediately. This prevents wasting time looking for a specific piece of paper in your "to file pile" and having to set additional time aside to sort and file these papers again.
If you find you are exceeding your storage capacity and papers are beginning to overflow, this is a red flag that it's time to reexamine what is there. "Content check" the papers that are piling up and let them go if they no longer need to be saved. By checking regularly, you can keep your papers tidy. Lisa's Pro-Tip: picture the end-goal of a desk and office with contained paper. Zen. Imagine a clean slate feeling when you sit at your desk and get right to work without having to sort and move paper around first. Instant increased productivity and peace = more joy at work! #peacefromproductivity #officeassistanceplus