Ending the Paperwork Nightmare

by Maria Gracia

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With all of the paperwork flowing into our lives day after day, it's easy for it to get out of control. Forms, memos, letters, catalogs, mail, flyers and advertising offers are stacked in our in box. Leave that in box untouched for a day, and you've got a paperwork pile. Leave it untouched for a week or more, and you've got a paperwork nightmare!

Here are a few simple ideas to help end the nightmare and get all of your paperwork under control:

  • Break It Down

    Break the job, of reducing your paperwork, into smaller pieces. Instead of trying to organize ALL of your paperwork at once, set a series of mini goals. For example: Day One-go through one pile, Day Two-go through your in box, and so on.
  • The 4 D'S of Effective Paper Management.

    Over 80% of the paper most people have in their homes and offices is either out-of-date or will be of no further use to them. There are only four things to do with a piece of paper:

    Do it
    Delay it (File it in an action file or archive file)
    Delegate it
    Dump it

    The Dump it solution should not be taken lightly. A large percentage of the papers in your office (except for legal or tax related documents), especially the ones in boxes that haven't been looked at for years or months, can probably be trashed.
  • Open Mail Over the Wastebasket

    When you get your mail each day, quickly open it right over the wastebasket, or recycling container. Immediately get rid of mail you don't need, such as catalogs or advertising offers you're not interested in, or unnecessary inserts that come with your bills. Then, sort the rest of your mail immediately, so it doesn't have a chance to pile up.
  • File Every Day

    If you hate filing, I'm guessing that one of the primary reasons is because you are overwhelmed with your current filing situation. If you only had 1 or 2 pieces of paper to file, you likely wouldn't see the task as so daunting. Once your paperwork is organized and an effective filing system is in place, filing will become an easier task. That is, as long as you file on a daily, or at the bare minimum, a weekly basis.
  • Use E-Mail.

    Rather than using snail mail, or interoffice mail that must be delivered by a mail person, communicate and share information via e-mail. And whatever you do, don't print out every single e-mail you get. Most e-mail and file attachments can be stored on your computer rather than being printed out. Just beware of virtual clutter! The same rules for avoiding paper pileups apply to the files on your computer, otherwise you're bound to have a digital document nightmare.
  • Don't Make Extra Copies.

    Many people make lots of extra copies of documents, just in case they're needed later. Very often, this results in tons of copies that never get used. Don't make copies until you truly need them. Don't add to other peoples' paperwork nightmares by giving them copies of something they don't need.
  • Be Realistic With Your Reading Goals.

    Many people temporarily store magazine articles, newspaper articles, newsletters, magazines and other reading material in a TO READ basket. Unfortunately, most people generally have more papers in their TO READ pile then they would be able to read in a lifetime. Be realistic.

    When your "to read" basket is overflowing, weed it out. By the way, the only way you'll get through that "to read" basket is by scheduling a reading hour each day. Use that hour to read when the time rolls around.

Maria Gracia is responsible for Get Organized Now! GetOrganizedNow.com Free Idea-Pak and E-zine filled with tips, ideas, articles and more to help you organize your home, your office and your life at the Get Organized Now!Web site!

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