In my book “Minding Your Time,” I talk about strategies for dealing with tasks and projects on a daily and weekly basis. It is crucial to keep everything organized, so the important things get accomplished and are not overlooked. It’s also necessary to deal with your physical “stuff” regularly as well. If you do not, then things can pile up and this can contribute to a feeling of overwhelm.  This was very clear to me when I moved offices recently. I had been in the same office for a few years and had accumulated a lot of junk.  I am admittedly not the best at filing papers. Some of my papers were filed properly, but I found some had been placed in piles for filing “later.” Some of my non-filed piles were just interesting things I wanted to read later, but some of the items were to be filed in case they were needed later – luckily I didn’t need them because they wouldn’t have been where they were supposed to be.    Of course later did not come.

This move took place during a very busy time.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to be out of the old office for a few weeks.  So, I moved the essential items into my new office and worked through a busy season.  The things that I left behind I got along just fine without. So I am thinking, should I toss it all?  I spent a few hours in the old office filing, recycling, and shredding.  I was hoping to not move any unnecessary items to the new office, but did move a few boxes down to sort… later.

It is 2018 and I try very hard to not collect paper.  It is best if the documents I need are online where I can access them on my phone, laptop, or computer whenever and wherever I need them.  However, I still manage to pick up papers from various meetings I attend and get papers to look at from colleagues, and some things still come in the mail. So this move made me realize that I was in “filing debt” – I had more to file than I had time for.  How could I get out of this?  How can I prevent it in the future?

I think the best way to get out of this “filing debt” would be to block off a day or two and take care of it once and for all.  I recently had an afternoon I could spare, but haven’t had a big chunk of time since.  The other option would be to find smaller blocks of time and eventually get it sorted out.  Either with the big block or smaller amount the time needs to be scheduled on my calendar.  I have found that the projects on my calendar get done.  And projects not on my calendar are less likely to get completed.

So how can I stay caught up on my papers?  I try to review any papers I have at the end of the day to see if I have written “to do” items on them.  I put those to do’s into my calendar for the day I will do them.  But then it’s important to decide, is this a paper I need to keep?  Will I look at it again?  Do I need it to cover myself in some way?  If the answer is yes to any of these then I need to put it in a place I can find it again.  If not, I can recycle or shred it.  I am doing this everyday now and it is very helpful.  Of course, I still have some old stuff to get caught up on.  I have heard it said about money debt, if you are in a hole, stop digging.  So although my filing is not perfect at the moment, I can start new and stay caught up with the new items and put some time on the calendar to deal with the old stuff.

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