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• Note a discard day on all papers before filing in reference files. Later, your once-a-year purge will be a snap. Or, discard all outdated papers each time you use a file or while you are on hold.
• Make sure all your files begin with a NOUN instead of an ADJECTIVE. For example, Auto Insurance, Medical Insurance, and Homeowners Insurance would all be located in different sections of your files. Use Insurance, Auto; Insurance, Medical; and Insurance, Homeowners instead, so the files all end up in the same place. Wouldn’t you want to go to ONE place in your files to find all information related to insurance?
• If you haven’t finished a project, put the materials away in a project folder or binder off to the side of your work area. Write a note in your planner or on your Task List to cross-reference the location and next steps. Keep them out of sight until you can finish the work.
• Learn to be ruthless when discarding information. It’s been estimated that 80% of what we keep we never reference again. Don’t be a packrat! Multiple copies of the same item usually exist in both electronic and paper formats. If someone else created a document electronically, you can easily obtain it again. Toss away!
• Handle each piece of paper that crosses your desk only ONCE using the “6 D” System:
- 1. Discard (toss)
- 2. Delegate (route to someone else)
- 3. Do (if you can complete it in three minutes or less)
- 4. Date (put in your tickler file for future action)
- 5. Drawer (project or reference files)
- 6. Deter (get off the distribution list)
• Before you put a piece of paper in your “to be filed” bin, mark it with the name of the file folder it belongs in. Then you won’t have to re-read the item again when it’s time to file.
• Always put your keys in the same place! You could put hooks by the front door, then walk in, and immediately hang your keys. Or ALWAYS place them in your purse. Or a drawer in your kitchen. If you’re consistent, you’ll eliminate the frantic scramble to find them as you’re trying to get out the door.
• I keep a blank lined piece of paper marked “Gifts” behind the “G” address tab in my planner. Anytime I think of something I want to purchase for my husband or children on the next special occasion, I flip to the on-going list and write it down. When a special day arrives, I no longer have to wrack my brain about what to buy my family members.
• Keep only those things that you touch or use DAILY on top of your desk. Anything that isn’t used frequently shouldn’t be out cluttering up your surfaces. When you finish using an item, put it back immediately.
• Stop nagging your children about getting ready for school in the morning! I grew weary of reminding Meagan (6 years old) to do certain things every morning. So we sat down and listed out all of the tasks, no matter how small, that are required to get her out the door every morning. We came up with 20 things! No wonder I felt like a broken record. So we made a checklist, and now Meagan can completely get herself ready for school with NO help from me! If you’d like a copy of our neat checklist, feel free to email me. I’ll send you a Word document via email attachment.
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