Organize stacks of paper

Are you finally ready to organize stacks of paper and mail that are all over your desk or home? Here’s a great tutorial to get you started.

Helpful tips: On your calendar, block at least two, preferably three, uninterrupted hours to begin this project. Understand that the larger the piles, the longer time it will take to complete this task. Anticipate that your environment may look worse before it looks better so stay focused on the long-term goal, and continue to block hours on your calendar until the project is completed. 

  1. Gather piles and place on a large flat surface, preferably a dining room table
  2. With Sharpie, write on three sticky notes: “To Do” “To Read” “To File” and stick on table top
  3. With Sharpie, write on two sticky notes: “To Shred” “For Others” place on appropriate box or bin
  4. Go through piles one paper at a time and place in appropriate pile or bin. Things to be thrown out go in the garbage can or recycle bin
  5. When you come across magazines, write “READ BY {date}” (no more than 3-months out) on a sticky note and place it in the “To Read” pile. When you run across items that you want to give to others, place a sticky note with the person’s name and place it in the “For Others” box
  6. Do not take the time to fully read articles, letters, or other papers that pull your attention away from the task-at-hand, which is to separate into appropriate piles
  7. Once you have gone through all the piles on the table, take one pile at a time and process into 1) an appropriately labeled file folder, or 2) the “To-Do” Inbox tray, or 3) “To-Read”  – Take processed folders back to your office, place in a filing cabinet. Place trays on corner of desk in plain view.
  8. Shred paper in “To Shred” box, empty garbage can and recycle bins
  9.  Take “For Others” box to your office. Go through those documents again and place them into appropriate labeled envelopes for mailing. Place in box to take to post office. Whatever you will hand-deliver should be labeled with the person’s name and returned to box. Place the box in your car and commit to deliver within 5-days.


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