In several previous blogs I have referred to Action Files – also known as desktop files. These files serve the purpose of keeping your desktop clear. Almost every piece of paper that ends up on your desk needs an action. It is up to you to determine that action and either carry out the action (if it takes less than 2 min.) or place the paper in an easily found place so that the action can be done at a later date. Let’s look at how that works. Pick up the first piece of paper in your stack on your desk or counter. 1. Identify the paper – bill 2. Identify the action – pay it 3. Identify where you are now going to place the paper – in the “To Pay” folder. Repeat with the next piece of paper. 1. Identify the paper – copy of your recent car insurance 2. Identify the action – file 3. Identify where you are now going to place the paper – “To File” folder. Repeat with another paper. 1. Identify the paper – flyer from the High Museum 2. Identify the action – decide if you want to go to that exhibit 3. Identify where you are going to place the paper – “Pending” folder. Slips of paper with addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses can go into the “To Contact” file. Short articles or items you have printed can go into the “To Read” file. Notes to yourself reminding you to go to the library, pick up dry-cleaning, or clean out the gutter can go in the “To Do” file. It is important to decide what the first action will be. That car insurance paper might first have gone into the “To Read” folder and after being read into the “To File” folder. Ads, catalogs, and magazines you don’t intend to read should go directly into the trash and not even get laid down. Magazines and catalogs you want to read will go into a basket or bin near where you sit to read. Some items will need to be shredded and these can go into a basket or have a file of their own. Let’s talk about that “Pending” file where I put the flyer from the High Museum. I had not yet made up my mind on that exhibit. I wanted to look it up and call a friend to see if they could go with me. I put the date I plan to do this in my calendar and then dropped the information into my file. I use this file for items that I have not yet decided on and I also use it for events I have decided on but the event has not yet happened. I’ll drop theater tickets in here after putting the date of the program on my calendar. I’ll place invitations in here after I have accepted the invitation and put the date in my calendar. I keep the invitation so that I can refresh my memory on the exact time, place, and what I need to bring. Now once everything is neatly filed – don’t forget what is in those files. Here is where your calendar is your friend. Every “to do”, every “pending” should have an entry on the calendar committing to when you are going to do or make a decision on an event or task. All other folders should be looked into on a regular basis – so once a week, have on your calendar – check the “To____” folder. Remember though, if you can do the task in under two minutes – just do it instead of filing it. If you want more assistance with filing, email me and register for my workshop From Paper Piles to Files on January 29 at Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur.
Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer