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Paper Piling, Horizontal Filing, and Other Filing Options

Paper Piling, Horizontal Filing, and Other Filing Options

    Have you ever noticed that some people have piles of paper all over their office?  If you do not organize by piling, you might be viewing those piles with curiosity, disgust or amazement.  Why would anyone want to be surrounded by piles, especially “dysfunctional” piles of paper that take up whole sections of their office floor?

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    After many rounds of pile busting for my clients, I have learned that many ‘pilers’ share certain characteristics:

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    • they are visually oriented and worry that if papers are out of sight, they will be out of mind;
    • they prefer to organize horizontally; instead of vertically (traditional filing);
    • they have difficulty throwing papers away because they are afraid they will either make a mistake or miss an opportunity;
    • they have difficulty making decisions because they tend to try to consider all the possibilities for use of the papers;
    • they are easily overwhelmed by paper; once they get even a little behind on paper management they shut down and stop dealing with it;
    • they really do not know how set up more effective systems for effectively dealing with paper.

    What to do? Of course, one option is to continue using piles of paper to track projects in progress. But you’ll want to make sure they are functional piles– ones that contain papers pertaining to just one subject or project.

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    Other options to avoid piling:

    • Make a commitment to MAKE A DECISION about what to do with paper the first time you touch it.  1) Is it an action item? 2) Should it be filed? 3) Should it be routed to someone else? 4) Is it trash? 5) Is it something to read? 6) Or, is it something you are undecided about?  Create easy to reach places for each of those types of items.  Then, put it in the appropriate place.
    • Make a commitment  to STOP SETTING PAPER ASIDE for any reason.
    • Use a step sorter on your desk to make files visible.  Have those files contain active projects or documents and forms you use frequently.  Be sure to label the files in dark ink.  Or, better yet, use a label maker (available at office supply stores for about $50).
    • Use an open filing cabinet (available on wheels), desktop filing box, or crate so that you can continue to enjoy a horizontal format, but have the benefits of a vertical filing system.

    Why learn how to become a functional piler?

    • You’ll be able to lay your hands on papers you need much more quickly. You can’t quickly find papers in a dysfunctional pile (one that contains papers pertaining to many different types of subjects or activities).
    • Your space will feel much more peaceful. Dysfunctional piles are very noisy. Since everything is alive with energy, every piece of paper has a different type of energy. Put them all together and you have a screaming crowd. Compared to a pile of just one type of paper, e.g. tax related papers, a mixed pile is a jumble of energy that you’ll tend to avoid. If you have a number of dysfunctional piles in the same room, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed by the riot of energy and the visibility of so much paper.
    • You’ll feel more competent and less anxious about dealing with paper. A room filled with paper piles seems to scream, “You slob! Do you really know what you’re doing?” or “You really are behind. Why aren’t you doing something about this mess?” Papers sorted into piles by category or filed away in a step sorter or open filing system have an orderly and affirming energy that is much quieter and calmer than mixed piles with no specific identities.

    If you are a piler, commit to learning more effective ways to keep your papers visible and accessible while reducing the negative energy that emanates from multiple piles. Two functional piles are much quieter than two mixed piles. An open filing system is quieter than any piling system. Remember, there are options available that will meet your need for visibility and will help you retrieve the papers you need in seconds. Make the time to organize your piles into a system that really works for you.

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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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