When I started doing live TV organizing segments on KSEE 24's Central Valley Today, I was nervous, to say the least. Live TV... what's the worst that could happen? Well, fortunately outside of dropping a prop or two, and showing up in a green jacket the day they used a green screen behind us (which made me invisible), it really hasn't been that bad. In fact, Alex Delgado makes it fun! I'm glad I didn't let my fear keep me from doing it.
If the fear of filing has created stacks and stacks of papers in your office or home, I can't promise I will make it fun, but I can offer you some tips on how to file fearlessly.
Most people's fear of filing centers around the idea that if it's filed, it's gone forever-- never to be seen again. It is scary to think you might miss paying a bill, or forget to attend an event. But in reality, by the time your paper stack has more than one item, you've lost the visual reminder, except of course, for whatever's lucky enough to land on top.
Check out Timely Tips for visual reminder methods that will clear the clutter, and promote productivity.
TIMELY TIPS - Fearless Filing Part 1
Step 1 - Secure a calendar/planner that works with your preferred mode of operation. Is paper your enemy? Use the calendar on your phone or Outlook on your computer to track your to-dos. Not so techie? Purchase a paper calendar. I prefer one with a week-at-a-glance and enough space to record appointments and to-dos.
Step 2 - Sort the paper piles into three categories: Discard (recycle/shred), Active (papers that need some sort of action taken), and Long-term filing.
Step 3 - Take the "Active" paper stack and assign on your calendar specific times to take whatever action is needed, just like you would record a dentist appointment. In other words, make an appointment with yourself to do it. For your bills, you might want to assign two dates per month to pay them (i.e. the first and fifteenth). If you saved a business card to remind you to call for an estimate on some service, write "Call ___________" on a specific date on your calendar. This way you still have a visual reminder for everything you need to do, but now you only have to look in one place-- your calendar!
Step 4 - Once you've recorded them on your calendar, place the papers in vertical files using a standard desktop file holder, or even a decorative basket in which folders can stand up. Label your folders with categories that best fit your Active paperwork. Use language that will trigger easy retrieval ("Bills to Pay" "Call or Write" "Coming Events"). Remember, for papers with deadlines, you're relying on your calendar, not on seeing your papers to remind you of the action needed. You simply need to be able to easily locate the papers, without having to thumb through a foot-high stack.
Step 5 - Check your calendar daily and complete whatever Active paperwork assignments are listed there. Refer to your Active file holder for the corresponding papers. Skim through the files weekly to see if anything was overlooked.
Step 6 - Eliminate the "discard" pile and set aside the long-term filing for next month's instructions - Fearless Filing Part 2!
"Organized people are just people who are too lazy to look for things."