Paper Handling Guidelines

Do you have a problem with paper?   Does it seem to multiply overnight?  Do you get your desk cleaned off, only to find an intimidating pile there again just a few days later?

You are not alone.   Most of my clients struggle with managing paper, and I myself wage a weekly battle with the top of my desk.

Here are some guidelines to help you make sense of the sea of paper.

  1. If a document has multiple pages, staple them together.
  2. If a document has no date to indicate when it was generated, put a date on it.  Examples:  “August 2010” or “Received 8/23/10”.
  3. If a document is inside an envelope, take it out and unfold it.  It’s hard to know what a paper says if it is tucked away inside an opaque wrapper!  (Need to keep the envelope because it has identifying info that doesn’t appear on the document itself?  Staple it to the back of the document.)
  4. If you have multiple copies of a document, use sticky notes to mark them as “Original” or “Copy”.
  5. If an action is required from you, write the action on the top of the document.  Example: “Call broker and ask about latest interest rate”.  This will eliminate the need for you to reread the document every time you come across it.
  6. If the action has a due date, add the due date.  Example:  “Register for fall classes by August 25, 2010”.  This will enable you to pull out the urgent papers next time you review your pile.
  7. If a document is less than two pages long, don’t send it to the printer.  Read it on the screen.

Try these tips and let me know if they help with your paper management issues!

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