We’ve all been there – too busy to deal with paperwork, piling it up with the great intention of sorting it out later, at the weekend or sometime never! I didn’t start out as someone who was organised – if I’m honest it took some work – but I do believe that if I can get on top of paperwork, anyone can. So where should you start?
We’ve all been there – too busy to deal with paperwork, piling it up with the great intention of sorting it out later, at the weekend or sometime never! I didn’t start out as someone who was organised – if I’m honest it took some work – but I do believe that if I can get on top of paperwork, anyone can. So where should you start? Here’s what I tell my clients:
Put it in front of you on your desk. Tackle it one piece of paper at a time, with the goal being to reduce it to zero. Don’t cherry pick, just work down the pile in order. Once you pick it up, don’t put it back!
Be ruthless in your questioning and assertive in your actions when sorting through this pile. Does it still require your attention? Often you’ll find that someone else has completed it or it’s no longer relevant or it’s too late (you’ve missed a deadline). C’est la vie! In the bin.
How long has it been there? If it’s something that’s been there for a long time, does it really need to be done? Just because a business colleague said it was great for his business to register on here, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be great for yours. How much value is it going to add to your business? Is it going to stay sat there for another few weeks unattended to? Can you give it to a team member or your Virtual Assistant to action? If not, bin it.
Stay mindful of your overall goals. If it doesn’t contribute to them, bin it. If it does, do it now if it will only take a few minutes. Otherwise, delegate it or add it to your To-Do list. Now that it’s on your To-Do list, can you bin the hardcopy paperwork? If not, add it to the ‘To-Do non-urgent’ section of your organiser file.
I’m a real note-taker, but I’m also a minimalist. I scrawl on paper for all sorts of reasons. I don’t like these bits of paper lying about everywhere, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them – ‘just in case’. If this resonates with you, I’ve found a solution that works perfectly and it’s simple – transfer everything from your scribbled notes that need action onto your To-Do list, then throw your notes into a box or filing drawer. This is your comfort blanket and can be accessed when need be (you probably won’t access it 95% of the time, but for that 5% when you may, it’s there).
For anything that doesn’t fit neatly into the To-Do list category, consider using an App such as Evernote to keep a record of it. You can use it to note recommended software that you may want to try at some point in the future, a fantastic hotel that you must stay at sometime, gift ideas, books to read, your Bucket List! If you take the time now to set up some categories in a ‘notes’ App on your tablet, phone or laptop, then when something interesting comes across your radar, you can quickly add it to the proper category – and so much easier to refer to in the future.
At the end of this go-paperless exercise, your shredder will no doubt need emptying, but your desk should be completely clear with nothing but your computer, phone, notepad and pen.
How good does that feel?
Why not give it a go and let me know how you get on?