I love organizing, but paperwork used to my biggest challenge. I tried to get organized by sorting papers into piles: To Mail. To Shred. To Recycle. To Do Later. To Do Sooner. DO TODAY! But faced with all those piles I was so overwhelmed I ended up only doing what I had to do and putting the rest off for later – much later.
Then last summer Teacher and I both read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I adapted his ideas to come up with a system that works for me.
As your paperwork comes in, sort it into one of four categories: Do, Defer, Deposit, or Dump.
- Do: Take care of the things you can get done in 2 minutes or less right away. Then pat yourself on the back for cutting down on paper clutter and stress.
- Defer: Set aside things that will take longer than 2 minutes. Put these on your To Do pile, then set aside some time every day to get them done.
- Deposit: File the things you need to keep, like appliance instruction manuals or articles you want to reference later.
- Dump: Get rid of junk mail and any other garbage right away.
You can do the same thing with your email! As you read each message, decide where it belongs:
- Do: Reply right away if you can do it in 2 minutes or less.
- Defer: Move messages that will require more than 2 minutes of your time out of your Inbox to a different folder. I set up an “Action” folder and use flags to indicate priority messages.
- Deposit: File messages you may need to look up later into a separate folder. Mine is named “Reference” and divided into subfolders for blogging, child care, sewing, etc.
- Delete: Get rid of spam and any messages you don’t need to keep.
Now it’s your turn to share:
How do YOU organize paperwork both online and off? Share your tips to managing physical and digital clutter!