Feeling overwhelmed in your home office: Determine to make paperwork sorting a toothbrush task! You may not do it every day like your teeth, but you just DO IT! Need a jump start? Don't overthink it, and get a buddy to help. Here's how:
What You Need:
1. A Shredder, or a Bag for What Needs Shredding
2. A Labeler or A Sharpie
3. Hanging/Manila Folders (Whatever you already use in your file system)
4. Inbox or Temporary Boxlike Item (Such as an empty Cereal Box Cut Open and Laid Down so Papers Can Sit Flat and Be Visible) to Stand In for an Inbox
5. Timer or Cellphone with Alarm
6. A Folding Table or Light Piece of Furniture, or Other Flat Surface You Can Easily Move in and Out of Your Office
7. A Basket or Box for Stray Non-Paper Items
8. A Box (or Boxes) for Leftover Papers
9. A Large Trash Can
What You Do:
1. Set your timer for 20 minutes.
2. Set up the "flat surface"
3. Place the Inbox at the far right, and the Basket at the Far Left, and Trash can by your side
4. Sort your papers (see below for how)
5. Stop and Put Everything Away When the Timer Goes Off
How You Do It:
1. Dump a generous pile of the papers on the table/work surface, and ONE PAPER AT A TIME, follow these "established ways" of making headway on paper clutter, writing out these steps and following them with each paper:
2. Immediately shred (or place in bag to be taken to a shredder service) junk mail items which have your name and address on them, and TOSS any real trash (invitation for past event)
3. If you find something important like a bill that is due within a week, place it in the "inbox," but take no action
4. If you find something you may need to refer to that you already have a file for (like a monthly statement), put it in the front of the file in which it belongs
5. If you find something for which you do not have a file, use the folders to quickly create one and place it in the file in your filing cabinet near something similar (for example, pet medical records go near the adoption paperwork)
6. If you find something you can't decide on, put it in a folder and mark it undecided, and place it in your filing cabinet.
7.When the timer goes off, whatever papers are not processed go into the boxes for paper, Non-paper items that you "can't figure out" what to do with go into the basket, and NOT back on top of your desk. Move the flat surface out, put the bag for shredding into your car if you don't have a shredder, and take them to someone who does! On top of your desk, put the inbox, and sit down and pay that bill!
This is not definitive, but if you do this on a regular basis, you will feel like a million bucks! If you do not currently have SOME TYPE of filing system, ask for help in the comments!