This week in the organization challenge we are tackling the paper clutter. Paper clutter is hard because it is decisions we have put off. If we put it off in the past it is highly unlikely that we will want to deal with it in the now. Today we are going to break down those big piles into smaller actionable stacks that are accessible when you need them.
The key to containing your paper clutter is an active file box. An active file box is where you store your papers until you have time to make a decision. We are not putting papers in the active file box to hide them. You need to schedule a time each week to handle the business you have decided to defer.
First, I want you to find one pile to get used to the method you are about to learn. Once you have the method down you will be able to tackle any pile. It isn’t that different from the STEPS to Organizing we learned last week.
Now that you have selected your pile, I want you to sort each item into categories. Think of things like to do, to file, school, coupons, etc. As you sort through the papers throw away anything that is no longer actionable and you don’t need to save as a reference. Also, try to take action on items that will take you less than two minutes. For example, if you have an appointment card go ahead and put the date on the calendar and toss the reminder. Don’t hang on to the paper you no longer need.
Everything has been sorted and we are ready to create the active file box. Grab your hanging files and manila files using the same categories you sorted into label all of your files. These can be handwritten or you can use a label maker. I use the Brother Pt-d400 Label Maker
The last step in tackling the paper clutter is to schedule time on your calendar to deal with the decisions you have delayed. Set aside an hour to deal work through your to-do’s or schedule them for the week ahead. If you don’t your active file box will be stuffed to the brim with papers flooding out of the top and you will be right back where you started.