I have found that although many of my clients are somewhat organized at work, when it comes to their paperwork at home, it is total chaos. There's no filling system in place and piles of papers are invading their home everywhere. For those with kids bringing home the multitude of notices and art work sent home from school, it can be a real challenge.
For me, my desk always seems to be the place where everything end up on. The receipts, the mail, all the various pieces of papers. The mish mash of things we bring home somehow always find its way there. Because for me, my desk is my "in-basket". It is where I open my mail, keep my checkbook and my filing cabinet, and where my computer is. So the 5 min I spend every day is efficient and simple.
Do you have an in-basket for all the papers coming home? Where is your in-basket? where is your filing system?
So how to manage it:
My desk is not always perfect and neat. Still everything has a place and everything is in its place. How do I manage? I have a system and it starts when I open my mail.
Every day, a little is done, most of the time as little as 5 min. I have a designated area for each thing, use a to do list and add reminders on my calendar.
- Most of my mail goes straight to the trashcan, usually advertising and credit cards applications anyway.
- The mail to read like magazines and newsletters is put in a pile to be read where I know I'm going to read it. However it is to read not to pile up to the ceiling! So if I don't have time to read that magazine it goes in the trash and I don't hold on to a whole year of them. If you don't have time to read them, unsubscribe.
- The bills are opened when I get them and entered on my online calendar as a reminder or paid immediately. Don't forget to write on your bill the date and check# and file it.
- The other things to be entered on the computer as reminders are put on top of my desk if I don't have time that day. But nowadays, with technology, all it takes is to take a picture and enter it on your calendar.
- I have an easy and up to date filling system so it takes no time to file. If you don't have one create one. If you don't know how, ask a professional organizer in your area for help.
- The fridge in the kitchen is where the kids sports practices are posted or family reminders.
- Once a week, I have an appointment with myself and I clear my desk of everything. Most of the time it only takes 30 min and once in a while I take a little more.
I know, what you're going to say:" but I have no time!!" Are you sure? All it takes is 5 min a day to enter reminders or pay a bill and probably as little as 30 min a week to attend to your paperwork and file them or throw them away. And as everything has a place, it's easier to make sure that nothing important really escapes you. Most papers we keep are reminders of things we need to remember, want to check or simply we just fail to make a decision on. So ask yourself a simple question to that piece of mail you're holding in your hand: "What's your next action?" Are you going to file, pay, remind, throw away? Do you need to keep it? Can you find it online? Take a decision and just do it NOW!
And don't forget to make that appointment with yourself before the paper pile monster reappears and you need a whole day to tame it again...
Sophie Bent is a Professional Organizer & Productivity Consultant @Bent On Organizing, LLC. She is a NAPO Specialist in Residential Organizing in South Florida and has been organizing businesses and homes since 2008. Contact her at 561-404-7181 or www.bentonorganizing.com