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10 Tips for Avoiding An Office Paper Nightmare!

10 Tips for Avoiding An Office Paper Nightmare!

Messy Home office

    How do messes like this happen?

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    Until I started working as a professional organizer I had no idea that spaces could get like this. Sure, I’d find myself frustrated by a pile of paper from time to time, but paper never took over my space.

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    So, how does it get this far along? What causes this kind of chaos? Here are some possible answers.

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    1. Paper comes in at a rate that is faster than the rate at which it is processed.
    2. There is no system for processing and storing the paper.
    3. Decisions about what to do with papers are postponed and papers land in undifferentiated piles.
    4. The person is not being selective about what papers to keep and what to throw away.
    5. The person is not devoting enough time to managing the paper flow.

    How could this person turn this paper challenge around?

    1. Commit time to complete an initial organization (sorting, purging and filing) of the papers in the space. Then plan to make time at least once a week to process incoming papers and file papers that are worthy of being kept.
    2. Reduce the volume of paper coming in by sorting mail over the recycling bin or trash, keeping only those papers that require an action or filing. In other words, don’t let the junk mail make it into your home office!
    3. Reduce the volume of paper coming in by leaving church bulletins at church, and getting rid of papers and handouts given to you at conferences, workshops, and at meetings with financial planners and insurance agents that you know you’ll never reference BEFORE you enter your office.
    4. Reduce the volume of paper coming in by reducing magazine and journal subscriptions to just those that actually get read from cover to cover every month.
    5. Get rid of magazines and journals monthly by creating deadlines for how long they will be kept and recycling or throwing them out when they reach that deadline.
    6. Reduce the volume of paper by becoming much more selective about what to keep and what to get rid of. Keep only those papers and publications that are needed for current actions or are most likely to be referenced at a later date. The only paper worth keeping is paper you WILL use!
    7. Set up a filing system for paper storage so paper can be easily accessed when needed.
    8. On the desk, keep only papers that require an action. Those papers can be separated into actions that must occur immediately and those that can occur later. Those that must occur immediately should be most accessible.
    9. Store papers and publications that are considered “reading” in a location away from the desk top. A tray on a shelf, in a basket near a chair where you’re likely to read, or in a briefcase to read on a plane or in a doctor’s office are good locations for papers that are optional reading. Optional reading means, if they don’t get read, there will be no significant consequences other than not benefitting from the information they contain. Reading should not be mixed with papers that require an action.
    10. When you encounter paper that does not require action or filing and you are uncertain what to do with it, place it in a tray or file that is off the desk. Label that file “Possibilities.” Consider this the location for papers that you don’t know what to do with at the moment. By giving those papers their own location, they won’t stop you in your tracks and become the bud of an undifferentiated pile on your desk. The better organized you become, the easier it will be to discern what to do with those papers. In the meantime, those puzzling papers will be grouped together, available but not blocking progress. Periodically look through those papers when you add new papers. You’ll find that given a little time you’ll know what to do with them–most likely toss them!
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    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

    1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

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    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

    2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

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    3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

    4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

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    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule Your To-Dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Use Your Reticular Activating System to Get Your Goal

    Learn in this Lifehack’s vlog how you can hack your brain with the Reticular Activation System (RAS) and reach your goal more efficiently:

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    8. Review Your Progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

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    Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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