Managing paper is an ongoing challenge for many of us. A few years back, after reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, I finally came up with a system that has been working for me-consistently.
Consistent. That word driving me to make changes. That word driving me to self-discipline. I don’t want to be organized or get organized for a moment. I want to live an organized life consistently. I want systems that work, can be used daily and keep me from feeling compelled to engage in the “30 Days” to an organized home challenges.
My system is simple. I’m a simple girl, so it takes simple systems! If you follow my blog you know I LOVE a paper planner system. However, my managing paper system can work for digital planners or paper planners.
If you work outside the home and are on the go a great deal utilizing a binder system will work best. (I use this as a part of my planner.) Purchase a set of monthly tab dividers. Not calendar pages, just monthly tabs. That’s it! Simple. As paper comes in you have choices. Read it and trash it. Read it and determine it requires action at a later date or has information included you will need the day of the event. (ie. birthday invitations, meeting announcement, agendas…) Hole punch the paper and place it behind the appropriate month in the slim binder. Note the event date on your calendar. Each Friday during my Friday Planning I look behind that month’s tab to determine if there are any actions for the next week. If the paper is for information purposes only (agenda, minutes …) I know I will have it with me when I arrive to the appointed event.
If you work from home or spend most of your day at a desk the file box version of this system may work best for you. Purchase a monthly dated, expandable folder. They are ugly (brown), but you can fit them inside a file drawer or place them inside a more attractive file box. Utilize the same concept. Any paper worth keeping, necessary for performing a task or having relevant information at an appointment, drop into the file pocket for the corresponding month. Pull papers out during your Friday Planning.
So often we keep papers in piles. We fear if we file them, store them we will forget where they are. However, we spend wasted hours repeatedly going through piles touching the same papers over and over. Using a tickler system like the one above affords you a simple way to track papers. You keep only what is really necessary and can quickly put your hands on the item when needed.
Consistency. Having used this system I have been able to consistently keep up with items I need. My file system has been simplified. I keep fewer documents. I can enter a meeting or appointment on the run and know I will have the necessary paperwork at my finger tips.