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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Part 2: Taming The Paper Monster

Okay, so what to do with the mounds of paper that you have right now! A few simple steps that have proven to work:

  • Block out a day on your calendar to stay appointments, no interruptions. Do not answer the phone unless it is your spouse or your child's school. NO EXCEPTIONS!!
  • Wake up early, take a shower, have your quiet time, and your cup of Joe..and if you are like me, make all of the beds! I can't seem to be super productive around the house unless it is pretty-fied!
  • Turn on the music that makes you feel alive, light a candle and GET TO WORK!!
  • Remember that your primary goal is to rid your drawers and counter tops of unnecessary and unwanted paper. (We will deal with purging filing cabinets on another day!)
  • This may sound crazy, but this has worked for myself and several clients..hang with me. Go room by room, start in the kitchen...gather ALL of the papers that have accumulated in that given room. Sit down (I love to sit on the floor and work) with your trash can and/or shredder near by..AND START PURGING! Be real with you really need it? Will you really ever look at it? Can you easily access it online? Dispose of the papers immediately..if you have to ponder it, you don't need it!
You will end up with a pile of keepers..(hopefully about 1/3 of what you started with) leave it, and move on to another room..most people only have 2 or 3 rooms where paper accumulates. Ours are our home office and kitchen..but I often have to check the girl's bedrooms for fly aways!  

Next, you will:

  • Choose a spot to set up your processing station for incoming paper.  Most people use the kitchen or home office, but you could also put it just inside the door where you come in and out of your house. NEVER leave it in your car!
  • Create categories that fit your lifestyle. Most incoming paper falls into a few categories: To Do, To File, To Read, To Pay or To Destroy.  Sort your current papers into these will then use your other categories from your previous "where does my paper come from" lists. (another post) For instance, I have one category titled For Fred, One for each child, one for a women's group I facilitate and so on...Another example is that I have one client whose kids are very active in a ballet school. She was always getting mounds of notices, flyers, etc from them and all the time losing them...she created a file folder labeled ballet! You get the point!
  • Designate a logical spot in your processing area for each category to live using file folders or wall bins.  Label each organizing tool, so everyone knows what kind of information lives there and what kind of information doesn’t live there.
  • Set up mailboxes or folders for other family members, so everyone can become responsible for their own action items.  When you process incoming paper, be sure to put everyone’s items into their own mailbox.
  • Don't forget, always make your tools appealing to look at, yes, pretty! And if at all possible, use a labeler! Weird, I know, but I promise it makes a difference!
My Short Term File Box For Incoming Mail

Finally, there are two secrets to controlling paper clutter as I have mentioned before. The first is processing your incoming paper regularly.  Daily is ideal, but if that’s not realistic, at least get to it once a week.  If you are not going to get to it immediately, have ONE designated place for it. The second secret is to make notes in your calendar to remind you to take action on the items in your action file. Otherwise, they may sit there untouched for weeks. Like all organizing systems, you must tend to them after you have put them in place..They will not run themselves. 

If you feel like you need help with this, get some! Many people (no, you are not alone) just need someone there with them to keep them focused, on task and accountable! Call me if you are in the Atlanta area, or another organizer..just call someone! And one final thing! I just have to add this amazing photo that I just uploaded. It was taken at a party that we took our youngest daughter to..a group of families with children from China...aren't they amazing? What a gift! 

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