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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 July 13, 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.

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    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.

    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.

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    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.

    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.

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    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.

    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.

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    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. 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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