Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Organize Your Paper Files

Are your files bulging with too many papers in each? Is it hard to find what document you need as you have to dig through too many unnecessary pages? Are the actual folders falling apart due to all their contents? Do the labels fit what each file contains?

The same rule of "Keep only that which is accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy" that we discussed earlier for all the elements in your office is very applicable for what papers you retain in your file folders. Remove excess paperwork from your file folders. Is the information on that page still necessary for performing a task? Can it be found easily online when needed? If the old saying that "we use only 20% of the papers we keep" is true, how can we cut back on the other 80% so it's easier to find what we need?

If this seems a little too overwhelming, break this project into smaller pieces. Review only 10 files each day to determine what you really need, what can be scanned into an electronic form and what can be removed completely. Likewise, consider what should remain nearby in your workspace versus be moved to an alternative location. Maybe the contents need to be in a space you share with co-workers. Alternatively, maybe the contents need to be moved further away from you desk; keep in mind that the space closest to your desktop is prime real estate and should be reserved for items currently used frequently while less often referenced items need to be further out.

Once you have the contents of your files down to what you need, do a little homework... If what papers are being retained make the folder too thick, divide the contents into at least two different folders, continuing to group like with like. Don't overthink it, but do take it page by page through each file. If the title of the folder no longer describes what papers are in it, adjust how you label each folder to best reflect its contents. There is an art form in having enough file folder names that each paper to be retained has a home while not having so many folders that any paper could be filed in more than one place, but I know you can do it.

Invest some time in moving those piles of papers from the surface of your desk into action, active project or archive files, and you'll find less time wasted looking for what's needed, you'll be more comfortable inviting others into your workspace and you will be empowered to get more done in less time.

Are your paper files acting as another tool in your productivity toolbox? If not, which of these action items can you complete this week to better organize your folders?

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