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Organizing Paperwork Is Key to Productivity

Are ever-growing stacks of paperwork interfering with your productivity? When you sit down to work, do you find yourself buried beneath a stack of paperwork and never being able to lay your hands on the one piece of paper you need for the task at hand? Organizing paperwork is key.

by Susan Ward
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Are ever-growing stacks of paperwork interfering with your productivity? When you sit down to work, do you find yourself buried beneath a stack of paperwork and never being able to lay your hands on the one piece of paper you need for the task at hand? Organizing paperwork is key. Remind yourself that there are really only two types of paper; paperwork that needs to be dealt with immediately and paperwork that doesn't.

So instead of handling each piece of paperwork many times, as you shuffle it from stack to pile, search for it, look at it again, and stick it into another growing stack, handle each piece of paper as few times as possible.

If the piece of paper falls into the first category, paperwork that needs to be dealt with immediately, and is something that can be responded to in three minutes or less, respond to it right then.

If the piece of paper falls into the first category, but is something that will require a longer response, place the paperwork in your Current file or inbox. Follow up by scheduling the time you will respond to the paperwork in your Current file (within the next three days if possible). Ideally, you should be clearing your Current file every two days.

And if the piece of paper falls into the second category, and is something that doesn't need a response, such as a receipt or information that doesn't call for any action on your part, file the piece of paper right away in the appropriate place.

Filing paper the first time around takes only a few seconds. But if you just toss the paperwork into an anonymous pile to be dealt with 'later', those seconds will turn into minutes and maybe even hours of paper filing, as you're forced to reread and sort through your old paperwork before you can file it.

If you're going to waste time, there are plenty of more pleasant ways to do it than rereading and filing old papers. So when a piece of paperwork lands on your desk, deal with it on the spot. You'll be glad you did later!