7 Simple Steps To Stop Piling and Start Filing Your Papers

Files or Piles

Where is that piece of paper you are looking for?

You know it’s on your desk. But, where?

Everyone has done the paper shuffle at some point… looking for that needle in a haystack.

Are your papers filed away where you can easily find them? Or are they piled in multiple stacks on your desk right now?

Filing vs. Piling

There are two schools of thought when it comes to papers, either you file or you pile.

The “Pilers” will tell you that they know exactly where everything is. (Somehow, I doubt it.)

Piles are not organization, rather they are “stacks of stuff.”

“Piles are not an organization method. Instead, file those important papers.”

Otherwise, when you need to quickly find that important document, you are shuffling piles of paper all over the place. (Ever knock one off the desk while searching for something? Now, you have a bigger mess.)

Filing Saves You Time

Filing doesn’t have to be complex. Many avoid it because they think it is going to “take too long.”

To the contrary, filing papers will end up saving you time and increase your productivity at the same time.

“Filing your important papers is an investment in your productivity.” (Tweet this Quote)

By keeping your workspace clean, you increase your ability to get work done.

As well, when you need to find an important document, you won’t spend hours searching for it.

Here are 7 Simple Steps to Help You Stop Piling and Start Filing Your Papers:

  1. Reduce the Paper – The first step in stopping the piles is to minimize the incoming flood. You need to reduce the number of incoming papers. Opt for paperless billing, eliminate mailings, and unsubscribe from magazines/newsletters that you don’t need.
  2. Have an Inbox – You need to have a specific place to put your inbound papers. That is what an inbox is for. Without a home for your new papers, you will create a new place each time you go to set them down. (That is how piles start!)
  3. When In Doubt, Throw It Out – You will never need 99% of the papers you keep. Really, you won’t. Be very deliberate when choosing to keep a document. Ask yourself if the information is available elsewhere or in electronic copy. If so, throw it out.
  4. Take Photos of Reference Items – Here is a quick tip to eliminate some of that desk clutter. If you are keeping an item for reference, take a picture of it with your smartphone and pitch the item. This works well for things like lightbulbs, batteries, printer cartridges, and other items you are keeping on your desk for reference.
  5. Have One File Cabinet – I try to avoid file cabinets. However, there are some documents that do require hard copies. Get a lock box or single place to store important documents like passports, titles, insurance, etc.
  6. Get a Scanner – Join the paperless revolution and invest in a scanner. These days, scanners are simple and can transform your stacks of papers into PDFs with a simple button press. Here is my favorite scanner via Amazon. You can even use your iPhone to scan a document in a pinch.
  7. Schedule Regular Processing Sessions – The most important discipline in eliminating the piles is to process those papers regularly. Make an appointment with your paper filing. Maybe every Tuesday at 10AM you spend 30 minutes filing your papers.

Get your Piles Organized

Piles may give you a sense of order.

However, they are not much help when you need to find that one important document.

Invest the time to actually file your important papers.

Spend a few minutes filing your papers now, and save yourself countless hours down the road.

Question: Do you pile or file your papers? Can you find important documents in a pinch? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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