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Conquer the Paper Challenge! Process Paper Daily!

Conquer the Paper Challenge! Process Paper Daily!

    Some of you are thinking, “Duh! I already do that. Doesn’t everbody?” And others of you are going, “Ewww, I’d rather die! It’s overwhelming! It’s boring!”

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    For those of you who already have the good habit of corralling and processing paper daily, keep up the good work! Being conscious of the daily flow of paper and deliberately controlling its flow is the only way to win the war on paper.

    A casual approach to paper is a guarantee that you’ll create your own personal paper nightmare. Paper is relentless in its flow into your space. You need to be relentless in your handling of it. Do it daily! It really only takes minutes! Minutes of agony or boredom are better than the hours and hours of excavation that will be required if you procrastinate and let paper accumulate.

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    Here’s what I mean by PROCESS PAPER DAILY:

    Make sure paper follows a specific route, a paper path.

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    • Paper should not float from room to room. When paper comes into the house, make sure it lands in one spot to be sorted into categories instead of allowing it to land in any one of a number of different locations. If you decide the kitchen counter is that spot, make sure everyone in your family knows that mail always lands on the kitchen counter.
    • After being sorted, make sure the different categories of paper are immediately moved to their next logical location. Bills, for example, would go to the bill paying area. Once the bills are paid, the paper associated with them would then be filed or pitched. So, the paper path for a bill would be: from the mailbox to the kitchen counter; from the kitchen counter to the desk of the home office where the bill is paid; from the desk to the filing cabinet. It’s important to create paper paths for every category of paper you regularly handle.
    • To simplify this process, consider having all paper move from its sorting location to a home office where the different categories can be processed and stored if necessary. That way the path would be: from the mailbox to the kitchen counter for sorting; from the kitchen counter to the home office desktop for review and action; from the the desktop to the filing cabinet or the recycle bin.
    • Making papers follow specific paths puts you in charge of paper instead of feeling at the mercy of paper. Your work is to determine the paths and to discipline yourself to make paper follow those paths every time. Just one lapse in maintaining your new paper system can cause paper to spiral out of control. Remember, digging out takes much more time and energy than maintaining paper paths! It will take over if you let it stray from a defined route.

    Sort incoming papers into categories. I recommend these categories: trash; refer out to someone else; action; filing; reading; holding for later reference or action; and possibilities of things to do, buy, etc. It’s best to separate the action category into bills and other actions. That way you are less likely to lose sight of your bills.

    Distribute papers by category to their appropriate locations. For example, trash goes to the recycling bin or trash can. Action papers are moved to the desk or countertop where action will take place. Filing is either filed or stored in a filing tray until you make time to file. Reading is taken to the location where you do your reading, perhaps a basket on your desk or next to the sofa.

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    You’ll notice I don’t recommend that you complete all the tasks associated with those papers on a daily basis. That would take more time than you have every day. I am just recommending that you control the flow of paper coming in, sort it and distribute it to the place where it will be acted upon or stored. If you do that much paper processing every day, you will find your stress goes down and your productivity goes up. You’ll be in charge of paper instead of feeling at the mercy of it!

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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