So Much for Paperless
In spite of the onset of the digital age, paperwork still plagues us. What’s the best way to handle it?
STEP 1: ESTABLISH A “HOLD” ZONE FOR ALL INCOMING PAPERWORK.
Remember, paper arrives from multiple sources. Mail is the obvious culprit, but paperwork also arrives in folders, briefcases, purses, etc. The temptation is to dump it on the nearest clear surface when we walk in the door. This bad habit means we will have to “round it up” later, which wastes time. Designate one place (bin, basket) to put all paper until you can process it.
STEP 2: SORT YOUR HOLD ZONE AT LEAST ONCE A DAY.
This does not mean processing each piece of paper, but rather getting it out of the hold zone and into a management system. Doing this daily will give you peace of mind to know that you haven’t missed anything critical.
Move paperwork into:
1. Trash/recycle. This includes catalogs, advertisements, out of date papers, etc.
2. Shred. Anything with personal/private information.
3. Action folders. Categories that make sense to your business. Examples include:
– To Follow Up: One or more folders specifically designed for the type of work you do. For example, you might have “to research,” “to sign,” “to call,” “to transfer,” “to schedule,” etc.
– To Read: Paperwork you need to take some time to read in detail. Examples here would include contracts, reports, meeting notes, etc.
– To File: Papers you have taken appropriate action on, and now need to store so you can find them reliably. Whether you prefer hanging files or digital storage, this folder is the place to put papers until you can get around to filing them. Filing should be a regular part of your schedule.
– Pending: Paperwork you have acted upon, but is not yet complete. For instance, you have left a message and are waiting for someone to call you back. Or you've ordered an item and are waiting for it to arrive before filing the receipt. Go through this folder once a week and move “completed” papers into either the “To File” folder, or directly into hanging files/digital storage.
Dumped papers typically yield inefficiency and frustration. Instead, set aside 10 minutes to set yourself up for a successful day.
Submitted by Seana Turner, Founder and President of The Seana Method