3Paper, e-mail and electronic files can overwhelm people making them feel stressed and ineffective. If information has built up look at the creation date on the document and decide if it has the most recent information. If the document was replaced by a current version toss or delete old versions of the document. If the document can be replicated, retrieved or is obsolete then toss it /delete it.
As documents come in, paper or electronic decide:
R – if it will be read or referred to another person, place it in a folder (electronic or paper) labelled as read. Forward referral documents the correct person.
A – If the document requires an action to be taken, decision to be made, a response conveyed, or has a deadline place it in a folder marked Act. Financial documents should have their own folder separate from the Act folder.
F –If the documents are completed, but must be retained ,then they are filed. If it is an electronic document forward it to the correct folder. If it is a paper document place it in a file or basket for filing at a later date.
T – Documents that you no longer need, have no financial implications, are out of date, junk mail or a copy can be obtained elsewhere can be deleted, recycled or shredded.
All of your electronic files and paperwork are now filed to be handled at a later time. Schedule time in your agenda/calendar to read documents, complete any action needed on documents and file paperwork. This system helps you to know where documents are if someone has questions, allows you to manage your time effectively by scheduling your paperwork at times when you will be uninterrupted and be able to quickly locate the papers/documents you need to complete a task.
Although much of our information is paperless there is still a substantial amount of paper to control. Have 5 stacking trays or a desktopper with 5 folders. Label the folders/trays: to do, to read, to file, refer to other people, miscellaneous forms. File the paper correctly and schedule time to process each folder.
At the end of the day:
- Clean off your desk, leaving only papers you are going to process tomorrow in a stack on your desk.
- In your calendar record the files you need to process. Place e-mails/documents that will be working on in a folder marked with the day of the week
- Check your to do files(paper and electronic)for items that need to be completed the next day
- Sort all other paper and documents into their appropriate trays/ folders.