We usually get called in for organizing help over a fairly limited problem: a cluttered garage, a pile of papers, or to-do’s not getting to done. It’s good to have a starting point, because it means that you have chosen a priority. However, to make the organizing last longer requires reaching a little further.
Are you familiar with the only touch/handle a piece of paper once rule? Many professional organizers and time management experts recommend it. I don't. Their thinking is that, you don’t get anywhere by shuffling papers from one pile to another. True enough. Their answer is to make a decision on one piece of paper at a time before moving on to the next piece. You may decide to read, act, file, delegate, or toss, but you MUST decide!
If being organized has been a lifelong challenge, then new habits are necessary to get and stay organized. Sometimes, however, organizing challenges can be overcome just by addressing the structures we choose. Staying organized requires easy, reliable movement from one stage to the next. Circulation prevents accumulation. Here are some examples of structures that we hobble ourselves with, just like a hobbled horse.
Clients, who are frustrated by all their paper, often ask me “What about scanning it all and going paperless?” I usually recommend “Let’s learn to walk before we can run.” Why waste time and money scanning in the paper that is worthless? I have never made the jump to 100% paperless myself, but recently I discovered I knew someone who has. I’m always learning surprising facts about my manager, Marlie Reid. One of those facts is that Marlie is 100% paperless.
Are you flooded with paper in your home? BIG paper challenges require BIG steps. An easy way to be as aggressive with your paper flood as it is with you, is to start by sorting shapes. The biggest deterrent to dealing with paper is making decisions. The vast majority of these decisions are easy, but we tend to tie them to the minority of difficult ones. The best approach, therefore, is to take the majority of easy decisions out of the way first. Here’s how.
Would you say there is more of a paper drain or paper trap in your work environment? In other words, does paper circulate easily, like water down a drain, or does it accumulate, like water in a plugged sink? If a sink is overflowing with water, we want the plumber to fix what is plugging up the drain IMMEDIATELY!