In celebration of National “Get Organized” Month (GO Month), Organizers Northwest invited fans, clients and followers to send us their home or office organizational questions and challenges. Professional Organizer Veronica Bishop has jumped in to answer some of them here on our blog. We hope they are helpful. Happy Organizing!
Q: I am trying to figure out what my aversion is to keeping my papers in files as opposed to in piles. Any insights about how to break the pile syndrome? I always fear that if I put something in a file I will never find it again!
A: Who in the history of paper has ever not suffered from this state of affairs? Paper is like anything else that causes clutter – wherever you put it down, there it shall gather other ‘like’ objects – in this case, more paper. And since paper is naturally horizontal, it makes sense that your mind wants it to stay that way. The truth is, keeping your paper organized in files is harder than putting it in piles and, therefore, requires a little bit of legwork. Here are some of our favorite tips to keep those papers at your home or office organized:
- Always “file for retrieval”. That means creating a file name that corresponds to your own particular way of thinking. How would you look for the file?
- Every piece of paper requires an action. The action taken will ONLY EVER BE ONE of the following: To Do, To File, To Toss / Shred. When you pick up a piece of paper, ask yourself what action you are attaching to it.
- Open your mail over the recycle bin, tossing envelopes and putting paper into one of these three categories right away.
- If the paper represents a “to do” item, then put it in a “to do” location. This could still be horizontal if you prefer, so long as the “to do” items are all together in one easy to find location.
- Immediate file, toss and shred those that do not require any other action.
- Do not create a new file for only one or two pieces of paper – unless you know that there will be more to come. Instead, create tabs with broad categories such as “Tax Documents” rather than “W-2’s”. Ultimately, it is easier to leaf through one file knowing you will find the paper in question than to search through every single file in order to remember what category you put the paper into.
As always, the key to keeping an organized office or home is to have systems that make sense and are easy to follow. Keeping those papers in order will become a habit before you know it!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to send in their organizing questions for this special Get Organized Month blog. We will feature some more questions next week, so keep ‘em coming! One lucky person will win a $25 gift card from Storables.