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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 January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

    More About Stepping Out of Comfort Zone

    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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