We have lived in ILLUSION over the past quarter of a century that computers were going to create a paperless society. Nothing could be further from the truth! We have so much information (paper and electronic) through publications, books, audio and video recordings, manuals, articles, emails, internet, blogs, etc. that most of us are unable to PROCESS it effectively and efficiently.
LIMITING YOUR OPTIONS
In taking a look in the why and how people were getting BACKLOGGED, I came to the conclusion that there needed to be a simplified system of processing all information. I designed a 4-point system as the answer to keeping up with all the information that is coming into our lives. While the 4-Point System focuses on paper management in particular, it can also be applied to electronic storage as well. Prior to using the 4 Points, all information coming in is to be placed in an “Incoming” receptacle. All mail, faxes, notes, messages, etc. From Incoming there are only 4 CHOICES of where to sort each piece of information:
TRASH AS MUCH AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN
Remove and throw out outer envelopes. Be TRUTHFUL about what you are actually going to work on and what is needed. Be discerning what you are committing to, i.e. meetings, charities, activities, entertainment, etc.
SET UP A FILING SYSTEM
Set up a color coded filing system with different colors indicating major CATEGORIES. Purge all outdated or unnecessary documents and files periodically. Block out time weekly to file or delegate filing.
KNOW WHEN TO TAKE ACTION
Code all Action items as to their PRIORITY -- High, Medium or Low. Highs and Mediums can be further prioritized by a numerical equivalent (1, 2 or 3). H-1 would be the highest priority. Priority codes can be changed as needed. Low priority items should be completed within a month. If not, RE-EVALUATE whether they actually need to be done at all. If not, then either toss, file, or delegate. As Action items are completed they can be filed.
BE CAREFUL ABOUT READING ITEMS
Be discerning about how many SUBSCRIPTIONS you are able to read and process. If there is a backlog of magazines to read, go on a “subscription” diet until you are caught up. SCHEDULE time every week to read. If the Reading stack is growing that is an indicator that insufficient time has been allocated to Read. Condense the reading stack by pulling only those articles that you are going to read and eliminate the rest of the magazine. That will make the stack less daunting!
Dee Behrman is a professional organizer in California.
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