It seems no matter how hard you try, your desk continually gets covered over by piles of paper. You riffle through the stack looking for a telephone number or an article you want to read for inspiration for a blog. As you churn your papers, you find a bill that is overdue and you panic. Why does this keep happening?
Most clutter on the desk comes from not making immediate decisions on what to do with the paper or from not having any system that lets you put paper away but still not forget about it or lose it (that old out of sight/out of mind thing).
So, here is where Action Files come into play. Pick up a piece of paper and ask yourself the question, “What is the first action I need to do with this paper?” Your response to that question determines where the paper is stored.
That phone number on your desk? You need to either call that person soon or record that number so you can find it later to contact them. Your answer to the question, “What is the first action?” will tell you whether to drop it into the “Call” folder or the “Enter” folder.
The article you copied to read for inspiration? If you have not yet really read it, it should go into the “Read” folder. If you have read it and know you want to write a blog using some of the ideas, it should land in the “Write” folder.
That bill will most likely to into the “Pay” folder unless you have a question concerning the bill. If you have a question, the bill will go into the “Call” folder.
The notes from the potential client you chatted with would go into the “Waiting For” folder. The new insurance policy print-out will go into the “File” folder while the reminder to get your oil changed will go into the “Do” folder. What files you put into your Action Files entirely depends on the types of paper that end up on your desk. So go ahead and quickly squirrel away every scrap from your desk into one of your Action Files.
Now sit back and enjoy your clean desk. All that empty space to inspire you and all that clear area on which to work. Wonderful!
But, wait! These are called Action Files but putting the paper into the files is NOT THE ACTION. These files MUST have a SCHEDULED time where you actually look into the files and complete those actions. Some files should be looked into daily, others weekly, and some like “File” on a less regular basis. Again, this is personal according to what are in your files but put those maintenance dates on your calendar and HONOR them.
OK. Now, relax and smile. Enjoy your clean desk!
Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer