By Willie Krut
How many times every day do you ask yourself “What should I do with this or that document or folder? Where do I need it and how long should I keep this note?”
You are always in a confusing situation, having to decide if this file will still be useful sometime soon or maybe year or two later or maybe never.
You rip up a useless piece of paper and an hour later find that you desperately need it. These things drive you crazy, it makes you feel angry and guilty first and than you start feel sorry about yourself. I am sure this is a very familiarly scenario for many of us. Isn’t it?
But imagine keeping them all in those growing piles on your desk and in the surrounded file cabinets and shelves in the office. Every time when you need to find something, it makes you sick.
Here is a suggestion on how you can handle such a situation. Split all the documents into three piles, sort, classify, and label them.
Pile number one is “documents to be”: the documents that you are absolutely sure that you need soon.
Pile number two is “documents to throw away”: the documents that need to be destroyed for sure.
Pile number three is “documents to decide” (this pile is the tough one): the documents with which you do not know what to do right now.
If the third pile grows faster than the first two that means that you are doing something wrong. The best way is to reexamine your piling criteria.
Usually, those documents that you don’t know what to do with are junk and can be destroyed. You will find out after you review them again. If there was some important document, you would put it in the first pile. If you didn’t do it, that means the document is not that important and after a second thought can be destroyed.
Review the document, clearly define what this document is all about, and line up its importance with your main line of business. With a closer look you will find that those documents are either outdated, have not been used for quite a while, are completely out of line, or not worth keeping. Take them away with no second thought.
Sometimes a document that worthless for you must be important to somebody else, so pass it to that person. You will make a favor to a coworker and get rid of one more paper or papers.
The documents such as manuals, references, newsletters, and other printed matters are definitely applicants for the 2nd pile. If the document is gathering dust for quite long time, get rid of it.
Take care of the documents in the first pile. Sort them by importance, due date, etc. Keep them always organized. Those are the once that you don’t want to lose and want to keep them as close to yourself as possible.
Review the document, other than printed standard materials, in the 2nd pile
Check if these are not outdated confidential documents and see if these can be recycled. Make sure that there is no mistake.
If some of the not confidential documents are blank on the backsides, use them as scratch papers for inter-department memos, draft printing, and other less official reasons within the office. The same thing you can apply to file folders and binders. Turn the folder inside out and you have a new folder ready for the next file that needs it.
Save money for yourself, for your office and help the environment. Save the trees.
After practicing for a while you will become an expert documents filer and liberate yourself from the mess of documents and unused things.