Turning Piles into Files

Technique #13: Use the 10-Step Process to Turn Paper Piles into Files

Before you organize, revise, or implement any paper management system, it’s helpful to understand why paper is such a challenge for most people. I’ve found in my experience that most people—no matter their job function or industry—face the following five major problems with organizing their paper and information:

1. Inability to locate documents needed in a timely fashion

2. Absence of a system, or lack of a system that works

3. Piles instead of files

4. Holding onto paper much longer than necessary

5. Difficulty determining how to categorize and label information for future retrieval

As discussed in a previous chapter, there are several types of paper management systems, each containing a different type of information.

The last section of this book is dedicated to the 10-step process I developed that works for the stuff in your office. It can also be used to help you organize your paperwork and go from piles to files. I know that some people have a strange affinity for their piles and even proclaim to me that they know where everything is. Yet it inevitably seems that they go to find something when I’m there that—surprise!—they aren’t able to locate. Here’s how you can use the 10 steps to help you eliminate the piles.

Step 1: Dedicate Time

Like any project or priority, what you don’t make time for will not happen. For that reason, you need to schedule dedicated time for this project. ...

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