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Blog: Paper And Information Management
6 Questions to Ask Before You Throw any Paper Away



So, how many of you have experienced this:
 
You walk into your office and you say to yourself, "Today is the day!"  You are excited and you say, "I am going to get this place organized and I'm not leaving until it is done!
 
Then...  you pick up the first piece of paper, look at it, say, "Hmm, well... I'll look at that later." and you put it down.  You pick up the second piece of paper, look at it, say, "Oh geese!" and you put it down.  The next thing you know, everything from the right side of your office has been moved to the left side of your office and you are tired and call it quits.
 
Paper can be overwhelming, but it does not have to be!  I have worked with a number of people that think that they will never be able to get through their piles.  Fortunately, it was not as horrible as they thought!  They were able to get through their piles by changing the way that they looked at the piles. 
 
Clutter is postponed decisions!  So, why do we do that?  Well, part of the reason is that when we pick up a piece of paper, we try to make too many decisions at once. 
  • What is this?
  • Where does it go? 
  • Do I have a file for this?
  • Where did I put the file tabs?
  • And the list goes on…
Then we default to – keep it. 
 
Instead, consider asking the following 6 questions:
 
Does it require any action by me/us?
If an item requires action (a phone call to make, a report to write, an outfit that requires altering) then it is an "ACT." Keep everything that requires action in one location, so that when you have time, you will be able to go through and check the items off of the list!
 
Is it recent enough to be useful?
Is the address book that has not been updated in 3 years really current?  Just like food has an expiration date so does the things in your life.  If you are keeping things that are no longer current, you are not allowing yourself the space for new and better things to start.
 
Is it difficult to obtain again?
Birth certificates, legal documentation, marriage licenses, company incorporation papers, the list goes on and on.  If there are items that are difficult to find or obtain again, you may want to consider keeping the item in a container designated for that type of item.
 
Are there tax or legal implications?
Have you talked to your council about the information you keep and how long you keep it?  If not, you might want to consider doing so.  Each industry has different documents that should be retained as does residential paperwork.
 
Can I identify specific use?
Do you keep things because you might "need them someday?"  That is fine if you #1, have the space to keep the items and #2 know what you are going to do with the item.  If you are keeping something for the express purpose of keeping it, consider that item a little harder.
 
Is it beautiful, useful or loved?
Are you keeping something that you think is hideous because it was a gift to you from someone special?  Don't.  Only surround yourself with things that bring you joy.  Most likely, the person that gave you the gift would not want you to keep it if they knew you did not like it. 
 
Does it reflect the person I was or the person I am now?
Are you keeping things that were important to you in the past, but really do not have the same meaning anymore?  Does your space reflect who you are or who you were?  Get rid of things that no longer hold meaning for you.
 
What is the worst possible scenario if I toss this?
This one is one of my favorite questions!  If you can ask yourself this question and find that you can live with the answer, then it can make it easier to let go.
 
Let me know how these questions work for you.  Do you have questions that work for you that are not listed above?  Tell me those too! 
 
To your success!
Stephanie

posted on: 12/8/2007 10:46:17 PM by Stephanie Calahan
category: Paper


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Paper And Information Management


by Stephanie Calahan

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About Stephanie:

Stephanie L. H. Calahan is a Productivity and Organization Consultant, Coach, Speaker, Author. She is also the founder of Calahan Solutions, Inc. – Productive & Organized, We'll Help You Find Your Way a premier productivity consulting firm, serving a national and local clients in corporate settings, home-based businesses, and residential environments. Her organizing expertise, Computer Science and HR backgrounds give her a unique perspective on what works at work.

Stephanie's Website:

www.findinfiveseconds.com


My Favorite Websites for Business & Office

  • The Publicity Hound
    Are you new to the business world and don't know where to start to get your business the recognition it needs and deserves? Then this site is for you! Joan Stewart aka the Publicity Hound shares all kinds of fabulous information about getting free publicity. Sign up for her free tutorial and learn ways to get noticed now!
  • Paper Tiger Productivity Institute
    Get resources for organizing your business!
  • The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords
    Google has a system that makes it possible, for the first time in the history of the world, to deposit five bucks, write a couple of ads, and instantly get access to over 100 million people - in less than 10 minutes. It's called Google AdWords and it's hot. In fact it may be the first and best thing to do to get traffic to your site. But it's not always as easy as I just made it sound - AdWords has some nuances, and most people have a rough time at first. Well my colleague Perry Marshall has written a very helpful e-course called "5 days to success with Google AdWords" and there's no charge for it.
  • The Definitive Guide to Writing & Promoting White Papers
    If you sell any kind of complex service, technology or sophisticated product, a White Paper is the best way to educate your customers about that technology. You can use a white paper to build your credibility, get free exposure in the press, attract new customers, and drive new technology into change-resistant, conservative markets. Most white papers are either too technical (boring) or too commercial (thin and cheesy) - but Perry Marshall has written a guide that shows you how to strike the perfect balance. But what's most important of all, though, is promoting and publicizing your white paper - because the best white paper in the world is no good unless somebody reads it!
  • Guerilla Marketing
    Most sales people spend all day dialing for dollars, chasing prospects who are mentally if not physically backing away from them, and they waste most of their time chasing deals instead of closing them. At the same time, most companies spend all kinds of money on advertising and don't get nearly enough bang for their buck. Perry Marshall's "Guerilla Marketing for Hi-Tech Sales People" is an information-packed audio CD that discusses 21 principles that you can use to eliminate cold prospecting and wasted advertising dollars in today's fiercely competitive B2B marketplace.

My Favorite Organizing Tools

  • EasyReach Find & Workspace - ask for a 30 day free trial
    EasyReach Find & Workspace are the ultimate in digital organization. Spend less time looking for information and more time working with it.
  • Paper Tiger Software
    The Paper Tiger software is a powerful filing system that uses the power of your computer to help you get organized and stay organized. Find anything in 5 seconds! We use it both at home and at work.
  • NeatReceipts Scanalizer
    I LOVE this paper organizer! Get control over your loose receipts, business cards, personal taxes, home office taxes, expense reports, business documents and personal documents. It is amazing how it can read off of the papers it scans.
  • SwiftFile
    Get control of your desk with the SwiftFile Desktop filling system. They can be ordered with or without the matching file box. This is the Best Action Filing System I have seen.
  • Send Out Cards - Try their free guest account
    This is one of the best tools I have ever used for contacts, reminders and physical cards too! Go to the site and check out their free guest account. Better to see it for yourself than for me to try to tell you.

My Favorite Websites for the Home

  • Mrs. A's Coupon Organizer
    Mrs. A's has done it again. They developed a great coupon organizer that allows you to find things quickly and actually USE the coupons you cut out.
  • Box4Blox
    Introducing BOX4BLOX ™... the Simple Toy Storage Organizer for LEGO ® That Gets Rid of That "Lego Disaster Zone" From the Floor ONCE AND FOR ALL!
  • Send Out Cards - try their free guest account!
    This system lets you type a message then they print it in your handwriting, stuff it, stamp it and mail it when you tell them to. All for LESS than what you would pay to buy a card at a store.
  • www.OnlineOrganizing.com!

My Favorite Goal Setting Tools

  • My Goal Manager
    MyGoalManager.com's Online System takes Goal Setting to whole new level! If you like online tools, this one is fantastic.
  • My Motivator
    My Motivator is a great online service that helps you identify your goals and then stay on track with those goals with audio to learn from and reminders that are sent to you.

My Favorite Books on Paper & Information

  • Taming the Paper Tiger at Home
    Strange as it may sound, having the right information at the right time can help you save money or have a good time. Barbara Hemphill tells you how to tame the "paper tiger" with quick, practical solutions to managing every piece of paper that comes into your house. She'll show you how to decide what to keep, what to toss, where to keep it—and most important—how to find it exactly when you need it, so you make room for your life!
  • Taming the Paper Tiger at Work
    Despite the promise of the paperless office, most of us are mired in the stuff—and deluged with electronic information as well. The use of computers, e-mail, the Internet, and faxes probably forces you to contend with more paper than ever. But setting up and efficient system to organize all the information is easier than you might think. Barbara Hemphill will show you how.

My Favorite Books on Time & Productivity Management

  • 30 Hours A Day - Ultimate Time Management Program
    How Much More Money Would You Make With An Extra 6 Extra Hours Of Productivity Every Day? Drop-dead Simple Tutoring Of Rapid Results Coach Dave Navarro Makes It Easier Than You Ever Thought It Could Be.
  • Outsource And Delegate
    How To Work Less And Make A Lot More Money!
  • Successful Time Management
    Successful Time Management. An Easy-to-read, Ebook That Will Have You Getting More Done, In Less Time, Than Ever Before. It Just Takes A Few Minutes Each Day To Put These Time Management Systems In To Place.

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