A little known fact about paper organizing is that each individual piece represents a unique object with it’s own traits and information. We tend to think of a pile of paper as being a homogenous grouping of like objects. And while it’s true that paper is in one category on it’s own, to organize paper requires processing it…piece by piece. We’ve learned from years of 5S office organizing projects that this can be a long, slow process.
To keep that process minimally painful, we recommend reviewing and organizing your office paper frequently, and purging necessary items to keep it under control. But you can take it one step further by following some actionable steps to reduce the amount of paper you create in the first place.
Here are our four best paper reducing tips.
- Resist the urge to print emails. If you do this often, it indicates an out of control email inbox – an area that may need your attention even more than your paper piles. Consider this habit to be a red flag, and address it as soon as you can. You will be amazed at how much less paper you produce when you have a manageable inbox.
- Take meeting notes on a laptop rather than in a notebook. Written notes become static quickly unless you transcribe them immediately after the meeting. If these are electronic from the start, they will translate to immediate action and productivity, without the headache of generating paper.
- Before you photocopy, print or file something, ask yourself these two questions EVERY SINGLE TIME: “Do I have an electronic copy of this?” and “Would I ever reference it again?” These questions can go a long way in reducing the paper you generate and keep.
- Use an electronic reminder system instead of sticky notes, notebooks or notepads. Most of these have the enormous benefits of integration across multiple devices, allowing you to take them anywhere and add reminders easily. Plus they usually have an alarm option, which can be very helpful! There may be a small learning curve if you are unused to doing this, but it is short and pretty painless – and definitely worth it in the end.
So…when do you start?
The right time to begin implementing these habits is immediately after you have completed a paper organizing project / purge. Seeing what you have and purging unnecessary paper will help you reduce paper generation going forward, and you will have an easier time committing to these habits with a clean, paper-free desk!
To get you started, we found a great deal for shredding at Stapes, via Groupon. This coupon is good until tax day 2017. We are not affiliated with or Groupon – just passing on the love! Shred that paper and move forward to a cleaner, more organized office.
Live in Portland?
Keep an eye out for our blogs on local upcoming shred events.