Paper Management

  • The most workable daily paper management system falls into only 5 slots. Usingthe "5 basket system," See our office resource section for productrecommendations, each paper will fall into one of the following categories :

  • The following compiled list of category questions will give you a better idea ofwhat to ask yourself when handling papers on a daily basis. This systemREALLY WORKS. You just need to be totally honest with yourself -- that's all.

  • Place each appropriate paper in the corresponding basket based on what youneed to do with it (do an action on it later? something for today? read it? file it?toss it?)

  • Remember, "maybe," "miscellaneous" and "stuff" are not categories of choice.Now honest here. Place a verdict on each paper once and for all. We knowyou can do it!

  • If you have to ... pretend we are right there with you -- because we really are!

  • Remember, there is no cheating or excuses in this part of the sorting. You are fartoo important to us to let you slide at this point. It's called tough love. We knowthe types of papers that thousands of people hold onto -- with the best ofintentions. We also understand the valuable space that these intentions consume.You do too.

  • Understand that this diligent sorting is a must to recover your valuable workspace. Afterwards, you will have a clearer vision of all that needs your immediateattention. You will be able to make healthier decisions in the future too.

  • Trust us. We know that you have a heart of gold and visionary dreams of all you want to accomplish. We sincerely admire that in all our clients. Yet, we also wantto see you succeed in your truest form. We need you to be more realistic aboutthe amount of hours in the day and what truly needs to be addressed.

  • In order to do that, you have to let go of certain things that may not suit yourhigher purpose any longer. Things that may not be as important as you oncethought.

  • Trust in the Universe that you have a higher purpose and clarity of vision is whatis needed to achieve that role. We all have a unique contribution to make. Sadly,it is oftentimes unseen in the midst of dis-organized ways.

  • OK! Now once you get started, "keep on trucking" through those piles! One pileat a time. The momentum will actually increase with every paper that passesthrough your hands.

  • Oooops, watch it now! If you pick the paper up, be very careful not to put itdown in another pile. That is exactly what we mean about "passing a verdictonce and for all." No shuffling of piles allowed here folks.

  • Sorting may appear difficult at first, yet after you truly understand "what's theworst that could happen if I do not have this paper tomorrow" in any givensituation, the easier it will become.

    Note: Attempt dealing with all of your paper in this regard for 21 days and you will bewell on your way to developing a new habit. It's a piece of cake from that point on.What have you got to lose? Just do it for 21 days ...then make a choice ...YOUcontrolling the paper...or the PAPER ONCE AGAIN CONTROLLING YOU !

    Divide and conquer:

  • With each piece of paper, let's see if we can decide the following. This is "key"now folks!

  • Do I need to: read it? file it? toss it? do something later? do something yesterday?(not to worry -- in the initial stages we usually uncover a LOT of these due to thefact that important things got buried). We all know about "out of sight out ofmind" so don't fret. Avoid beating your self up now -- you promised!

  • You may run across several where you find yourself asking: why do I even havethis?

  • Just place all those "needed to do yesterday" items in the Today basket as youcome across them and you can schedule them for tomorrow seeing as "today" isD-Day and there are no interruptions excluding emergencies that require you tostop mid-stream of the task at hand.

  • I know, I know... a lot of people get to this point and think we are going to makeyou throw everything out. Not to worry! We understand there is really, truly,qualified and quantified data roaming around this desk that is extremely valuableto your business or home concerns. These next few steps are only designed toassist you in making educated decisions on "what the heck to do with all thispaper." Our aim is not to trash it all on you, only to help you categorize it andsystematize what you need to do vs what is no longer important today.

    To Do...

  • Warning: this basket may be extremely large by the time you finish. Relax. It'sactually quite normal to unearth quite a bit of things that need our attention inthe near future during this part of the process. After all, we are nearing the bottomof the desk once and for all! No need to panic. We can easily show you how toeasily dwindle this down in no time! See our section on handling dailyschedules.

  • Pick a paper ...any paper, and ask:

    Do I really need to do this?
    Is it too late to do this?
    Do I really want to do this?
    Does anybody care if I do this?

  • When a paper meets the criteria to the above questions, with an "emphatic yes -- Istill need to take action" place the paper in the To Do basket. That's it for now!

  • If the answer is "nay," ...too late ... not as important as I "thought' time to dothis or what am I even saving this for? Toss it! Utilizing the 5th basket (trash), ISan option we hope you see as viable.

  • To process paper landing in the To Do basket -- see our section on handlingdaily schedules.

    To Read...

    Do I have time to read this?
    Do I have more than 3 months of issues here?
    Is this out of date?
    Will I possibly receive this again?
    Is there another resource for this if I decide I may want to read it at a laterdate?

  • Whatever you do, avoid taking the time to read at this point. When a paper meetsthe criteria to the above questions, with an "emphatic yes -- I still need to readthis," place the paper in the To Read basket.

  • Oooops, hold on a sec. If the item you want to read is "part of" a magazine,journal, newspaper or periodical -- tear the appropriate pages out and staple themtogether. 80% of the time that you save an entire item, you will forget why youwere saving it by the time you get back to it.

  • To process paper in the To Read basket -- see our section on handling dailyschedules.

    To File...

  • OK. Some of the valid categories you may stumble into here are:
  • archival files: legal and tax papers
  • current files: regular business or home documents, warranties,instructions, reference material, clients, papers you will use as aresource etc..

  • Some of the invalid categories are a swarm of unknowns from oshgosh tokalamazoo. To deal with these critters you need to ask the following:

    Is this a duplicate?
    What's the date?
    How often will I need to refer to the information?
    Do I need this piece of paper or do I want it? (big difference)
    Will I really use this information?
    Is this really quality information?
    Can I acquire this information somewhere else in case I do need it later?
    Can I live without this piece of paper? (what's the worse that couldhappen if I didn't have this tomorrow)?
    Does this paper deserve to occupy my valuable space?

  • Remember, 80% of what you file is never looked at again!

  • When a paper meets the criteria to the above questions, with an "emphatic yes -- Istill need to file this," place the paper in the To File basket.

  • If the answer is "nay," ... not as important as I thought ...I can get this again orwhy am I even saving this? Toss it! Utilizing the 5th basket (trash), IS an optionwe hope you see as viable solution.

  • To process paper in the To File basket -- see our section on handling dailyschedules and creating file systems.


  • Now listen closely. In deciphering the difference between the To Do and theToday baskets, I want you to think of "when" these items need to be completed.Obviously any past due items need to receive the red carpet treatment. That iswhat the Today basket is all about. It's your "hot list" of things to do, not a "wishlist" of things to do.
  • The To Do basket are items that will need your attention, just not necessarilytoday.

  • Ask yourself:
  • Am I nearing a timeline on this?
  • Has this opportunity expired?
  • Is this past due, yet still requires my attention?
  • Is this really something for today - or is it a project? (if so, place it inthe To Do basket)
  • Is this a miscellaneous paper that I just don't know what to do with?
  • Am I dumping this here to avoid making a decision about it?
  • Do I really have to do this today or do I have too much to doalready?

  • Understand that the primary concept of the Today basket is to segregate all ofyour priorities for the day from all the others in the To Do basket.

  • With this in mind, you want to set yourself up to win. Decide what is realisticallyfeasible to accomplish in a given day. Whatever you designate in the Todaybasket is accomplished that day.

  • If your basket is not empty at the end of the day, you are probably attempting todo too much and inevitably setting your self up for disappointment and we wantto avoid tat completely.

  • Remember, after unearthing the desk like you have just done the Today basketmay appear demanding for the next few days. After that it will be a cinch!

  • When a paper meets the criteria to the above questions, with an "emphatic yes -- Ineed to do this immediately," place the paper in the Today basket.

  • If the answer is "nay," ... not critical ...I still have a safe amount of time to dealwith this -- Place it in the To Do basket instead. If the paper is history due to itsage -- toss it!

    To process paper in the Today basket -- see our section on handling daily schedules.


  • Alright, I know many of you save a conglomeration of papers because you tossedsomething once and lived to regret it, hmmmm? Just remember, keepingeverything isn't the best solution either due to the limited commodity called:space. P>
  • With this in mind we need to build up your confidence in regards to "lettingthings go." So, give this solution a shot:

    Place all of the papers you are hesitant to dump in a box.
    Put a real date (ie: September 30) on the box, 3 months from today, tops!
    Place the box in your garage or storage area.
    Make a note on your calendar to dispose of the box according to the dayyou have designated.
    If you have not opened this box within this time, chances are it's safe toeliminate.
    Vow to keep your promise and dispose of it as marked.
    REWARD have done a SUPER JOB !!

    Yippeeee!!! You have finished weeding the papers!

    Managing Files:

    Table of Contents