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How to Organize Your Paperwork to Boost Productivity

How to Organize Your Paperwork to Boost Productivity

    It’s so easy to get buried under the press of paper, most of which is just not important! All you have to do is ignore incoming paper for a week or two and you’re sunk.

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    Even if you have a job where most of your work is done online, you’ve probably still got letters, periodicals, inter-office memos, contracts, and other important pieces of paperwork that are piling up in your office.

    For years I have been working to figure out the best way to deal with the influx of paper into my home. I’m one of the lucky ones who does not have the school paper nightmare that comes with having children. But, running a business from home can feel like having a very big child!

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    I’ve gotten good about doing an initial daily paper sort in the kitchen, which usually results in a chunk of papers being recycled and the majority of them making their way to the in-box of my desk. There they are corralled until the weekend when I have time to seriously consider their importance and take action.

    I once had the intention of taking action on paper every day, filing those pages that I really might reference some day. But, as life would have it, I just got too busy to file every day. I was lucky if I responded to email once a day, much less did something as exciting as filing papers. Now all that paper waits until Sunday when I can sit down, assess my reality, sort, pitch, file and make plans for the next week.

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    I’ve found that a weekly review of everything on my desk and in my in-box, which is actually a clean up, throw out, prioritize and planning session, really serves me very well. The amount of paper that gathers in that six day period is still manageable and processing it helps me get clear about my priorities for the next week. Out of that stack of papers come new to-do items that I add to my running list, papers to be filed, and papers to recycle. By the end of my clean up and review session I know just what I must do that day, what errands I need to run during the week, and where I stand on larger projects. I feel grounded and ready to take action.

    The biggest challenge is getting started with the week session. The task always feels enormous to me, even when there aren’t large volumes of paper. What’s that about? I think it’s about making a commitment to my own order, getting clear about my reality. It’s easier to live in a vague la la land than to face time obligations and challenges. I manage to push past my resistance by reminding myself how good I feel when once again I am grounded with a clear picture and plan for the upcoming week. It’s a mental exercise to get me to pick up the first piece of paper. Once I get going the positive feelings that come from getting organized motivate me to keep going.

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    If you hate paper and continually find yourself buried in a mess of papers of your own making, try the weekly sort, pitch and prioritize method. Make a commitment to bite the paper bullet once a week and watch your paper misery ease and your feeling of empowerment soar. It takes much less time to do than you think it will. If you persist in doing a weekly cleanup, no longer will you be the victim of paper insanity. You’ll be in charge of your paper. People who control their paper are better able to control every other aspect of their lives. That could be you!

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    1 How To Break the Procrastination Cycle 2 Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing) 3 5 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination and Feeling Overwhelmed 4 Why You Procrastinate: 7 Possible Reasons You Can’t Get Anything Done 5 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

    How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

    How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

    There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

    The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

    For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

    1. Feeling Eager and Energized

    This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

    2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

    The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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    3. Still No Action

    More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

    4. Flicker of Hope Left

    You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

    5. Fading Quickly

    Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

    6. Vow to Yourself

    Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

    Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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    How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

    Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

    To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

    1. Feeling Eager and Energized

    This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

    2. Plan

    Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

    3. Resistance

    Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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    What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

    4. Confront Those Feelings

    Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

    Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

    5. Put Results Before Comfort

    You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

    6. Repeat

    Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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    Final Thoughts

    Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

    If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

    Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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