Listen to show #160 – How To Organize Paper So You Can Find What You Need.
Catching up by reading Step #1 – The Inbox, and Step #2 – Processing the Inbox Using 3 Questions and 2 Secrets (free printable) and Step #3 – Creating an Action File and Step #4 – What’s a Tickler File. All have videos included.
We are bringing it all together in this final step to explain exactly how to use the action file.
Think of paper like a river flowing through your home to it’s final destination. It starts as it flows into your house through various inlets – your kid’s backpack, the mailbox, friends, family members, work.
First step: Paper flows into your inbox.
Second step: You are the filter as you stand, daily, to process your paper using the 3 Questions (print the free printable and store near your inbox). Hopefully a majority of paper can flow immediately out of your home through the recycle bin, the shredder, your outbox, or the trash.
Third step: Paper you keep flows into your action file (temporarily) or your file cabinet (long term or permanently).
Fourth step: Paper in your action file helps you get tasks done on time and then can either flow out or go into the the long term storage – your file cabinet.
If water gets jammed up with sticks and debris it can do a lot of damage to it’s surroundings.
Just like water if paper gets jammed up, piled and forgotten, or crammed in a closet to deal with later it can cause a lot of damage. Time is wasted looking for things. Money is wasted on late fees and missed opportunities. Relationships are stressed because important items are misplaced. Your reputation is damaged because you forget things and miss deadlines Your self-confidence suffers because you are ashamed of your surroundings, etc.
The 5 steps we’ve discussed will help you take control and create a flow for the paper in your life.
As you stand processing your inbox here are some examples of how to effectively use your action file. For these examples we are going to assume it is October 15, 2014.
- You need to pay a bill by November 2, 2014. Put the bill in the 30th number tab. On the 30th you will pull out the bill and put it in the mail. It arrives November 1st…on time.
- You need to keep the coach and parent roster for your daughter’s Upward Basketball team for the next 8 weeks. Place it in your daughter’s hanging file.
- You have a receipt for your new TV that you purchased. Put it in the “To File” hanging file to be filed in the file cabinet under Home or Major Purchases (or run and do it immediately).
- You have a magazine that you want to read. Place it near where you read (the couch) in a “Reading” basket. If the basket is full you MUST empty some things out or you may not keep anything new. Face reality. You do not have the time to read all the things you want to read. Opt out of mail (use the links listed in the show notes here) so that you are not faced with this every day!
- You have a Kohls’ coupon that you want to keep. Place in a “Coupon” hanging file or put it directly in the car in a Coupon envelope.
- You print off tickets to a concert you just purchased for November 18, 2014. Put them in the November month tab. At the end of October you can distribute your November contents into the numbered tabs. The concert tickets would go in the 18th numbered tab at that time.
- Your husband is looking at new grills to purchase. He printed off 7 options while at work and brought them home. Drop them in your husband’s hanging file.
- Your child brings home their class list. They’ll need this for Valentines and Christmas cards. Have your child drop it in their hanging file so they know exactly where it is. (Celebrate! You’ve just trained your child to keep their paper organized!!)
- You were mailed this lovely birthday card from a group of friends listing all your strengths and things they love about you. You want to keep it. Put it in your “To File” hanging file. Then file either in a hanging file in your file cabinet labeled “Your Name” or in a memory bin (each family member should have one) in storage on basement shelves or in your office cabinet.
Are you catching on? There are no right or wrong answers. Learn what works for you and how you think.
We mentioned Chelle’s sign PROCESS PAPER is taped right by her coffee. Every day she is reminded to process her paper and check her action file.
Watch the video: Step #5 – Using an Action File
Hopefully this has helped you understand the benefit of creating a plan for paper entering your home. Implement and carry out these 5 steps in order to organize your paper so you can find what you need.
Don’t be discouraged. There will be days when you are busy, days where you don’t feel like processing your paper, days when decision making is overwhelming, and days when you feel like you aren’t making any progress. But keep up the effort. Push forward. Make yourself process paper even when you don’t feel like it. You’ll be glad you did, your relationships will be healthier, and your life will be better for it!
If you have questions or run across a paper you are not sure what to do with please leave us a comment, email us or post it on our Facebook page. We want to help you get your paper organized!