The only 4 things to do with paper

One of the most popular questions I get from blog and mailing list readers is this:

How do I control all the paper?!

I understand completely because when I get lazy, that’s the first area that goes out of control for me too.

The first thing you have to do is decide and make decisions. I like using a timer because I’m naturally competitive (anyone relate?) and that inspires me to take action, and quickly too!

Before you start, gather the following items:

1. a timer
2. wastepaper basket
3. brightly coloured pen (I like a nice thick red gel pen)
4. notebook and/ or planner
5. post-its (the originals, not the cheap stuff)

Right, now you’re set!

There are only four actions you’re allowed to do once you’ve scanned each piece of paper. Don’t take longer than 30 seconds to scan the page.

1. Dump it

Throw it in the bin. The more ruthless you are, the less you have to file! Win-win!

If you only need one piece of information, write it down straight in your notebook and throw the piece of paper away. Some of you are hyperventilating – that’s okay 😉

2. Delegate it

If someone else has to attend to it (husband needs to phone), write the action on the paper itself or on a post-it note and put that in a separate pile.

3. File it

Please do yourself a favour and only put paper in this pile if you ABSOLUTELY need to reference it. Just a quick stat for you – only 20% of filed papers are ever referenced again.

Use your post-it pad for different categories. For example, when I’m doing my weekly paper sorting session, I use Household, Marcia, Dion and Business as my categories.

4. Do it

Here I apply the two-minute rule. If you can do it in two minutes or less, do it right there and then. When I say “do it”, I mean either action it or schedule it to action later.

For example, if you’re working on your papers at 10pm and need to make an appointment, you can’t phone right there and then, so write it on tomorrow’s to-do list. That’s within two minutes and it counts.

There you have it – the only four things to do with paper. If you stick to making decisions, your paper will be beautifully organised.

Marcia Francois is a time management coach and speaker who helps busy women break out of overwhelm, make the most of their time and take purposeful and focussed action. Visit http://marciafrancois.com for your free Organising Success Pack.

If you’d like help creating a life you absolutely love, contact me about my coaching services.

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Comments

  1. This is a great post! I have bookmarked it so I can work on this over the weekend. I’m swallowed by paper!

    ~Angela 🙂

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