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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 September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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