January. 31 days. Chelle’s home office organized. Is it possible? Join us on this 31 day organizing journey!! You can do anything for 31 days right?
Keep up with the entire series here.
Day 26 – Assignment: We are resting today because it is Sunday but wanted to cover the flow of paper coming into your office. Everyone needs a PLAN.
Bottom line is you must have a plan for paper flow in your office. There are a lot of options so don’t feel you HAVE to follow a certain method. Create a plan. Test it consistently for a set time period. Adjust it as needed to make it work for you.
If you have answers to the following questions then you have a PLAN, or flow, for the paper coming into your office. If not you will end up with paper piles and disorganization again. It’s just a matter of time.
Here are the questions that NEED answers:
Let’s go over each question…
Where do I put paper when it enters my office?
You need an inbox, a tray or a location dedicated to unprocessed paper. This is new paper coming into your space that hasn’t been dealt with. I like this inbox with a lid from See Jane Work. I talk about it here. I also like the tiered shelves in silver or black because they have three shelves for In, Out and To File. This one is similar but has sides on the trays.
Paper goes in the inbox first.
When and how will I process my paper?
You need to designate a time to process paper. Consider doing this every day when you get the mail. Or, every evening when you start the dishwasher.
Write down when you plan to process your paper and then enter it in your calendar. Set a reminder until you are consistent.
The secret to processing your paper productively is to stand up. We talk about this on our radio show Targeting Paper Clutter Zones. Use my 3How?s to process your paper. Read this post to learn what they are and other tips to help you process your paper.
Paper gets processed daily while standing up and using the 3How?s.
Where do I put paper that needs action?
This is where you will benefit from having a plan. You have a form that needs to be filled out but can’t do it now. Where do you put it? You have an invitation that needs an RSVP but you have to talk to your spouse first. Where do you put it?
Read the post here to learn how to use the action file to hold your action papers. We even include a quiz. We expand on this in our book Seriously END CLUTTER Without Taking Yourself Too Seriously.
Where do I put paper/projects that I am currently working on?
These are the papers that lay all over the desk because you are in the middle of working on a project and don’t know what to do with them. One option is to use the action file and name a hanging file Projects. Then use file folders labeled with the individual project name. For example, we are collecting estimates to replace the windows in our home. I label a file folder Windows and place it in the Projects hanging file.
Another option is to use this six-tier incline sorter or this Rubbermaid three-pocket file folder organizer. Place it on your desk. You can label file folders with your projects or even a To Do and a Bill Pay and place them in the tiered file organizer. I like the clear plastic so cute file folders show through.
Chelle has a lot of photo projects. We are going to dedicate one section of shelves in her photo closet for Projects. Each project is given a plastic bin like this. All paper and photos associated with the project go into the bin. When she works on the project it comes out.
Use file folders, an action file, tiered organizers, or bins to create a place for current paper and projects.
Where do I put paper that needs to get filed?
Will you always have time to file immediately? If so, great. You will never have an overwhelming To File pile. If not, you need to have a location for papers to file. That is why this Rolodex Three-Tiered Desk Shelf is great because one of the shelves can be labeled To File. Another option is to make a hanging file in your action file called To File. We talk about the action file here and here.
Dedicate and label a place for To File papers.
Where do I put paper that needs to leave my office?
We all have mail that needs to get put in a mailbox or a bill that needs to be dropped off. You can always run it out to your mailbox or your car immediately but that might not be the best use of your time. Using the Three-Tiered Desk Shelf is good because it has a shelf that can be labeled Out. Three shelves = In, Out and To File.
Or, you could attach one of these clear three pocket wall files to your wall and use one file holder for Out.
Chelle is doing a combo by using what she has – Two mesh, stackable trays for her In Box and To File papers. We just made a label and put it on her accent colors (blue and orange) and taped it to the trays. Then she will purchase a wall file holder for her outgoing papers.
Designate a place for outgoing papers. Label if possible.
What works for you with your paper flow? Do you have a plan?