Monday, June 30, 2008

Bliss for Your Papers

Stackable letter tray from The Container Store.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I am really working to get organized. It's all part of a time-management, decluttering and streamlining streak I've been on.

The most obvious benefit to me seems to be this: The more space and time for opportunity in your life, the more likely you will be available to pursue opportunity when it knocks. Additionally, if opportunity isn't exactly banging down your door, having time and clear mental space will give you the energy you need to create it.

So for those of you looking to do the same, here's a little practical tip.

I'm one of those people who by dint of my profession must swim in a constant sea of paper. Once I realized everything had its place, I realized I could sort my incoming paper in four pretty broad categories.

So, I bought four stackable letter trays like the ones above, and labeled them thusly:
  1. In use
  2. Needs reply
  3. To shred/toss
  4. To file
It's amazing how much of my paper--probably 95 percent--fits into one of those four categories. Because it's vertical, things that need attention never get placed under another stack, rendering them invisible and therefore promptly forgotten.

It also prevents horizontal paper-sprawl, which gives my little Ikea desk nightmares.

Another advantage is that it lets me process things in batches. I don't have to shred something as soon as it comes in. Instead, when my shred tray is reasonably full, I take it to the shredder and deal with it in one chunk of time. Hooray for efficiency!

The final benefit is more intangible: It just makes me feel better. I know where my paper goes, and I deal with the steady influx like a sane person, rather than as I used to, by pretending the paper simply wasn't there. Stack? What stack? Needless to say, that "system" wasn't really working for me.

So there you have it. The humble letter tray has swooped in to improve my life. What organizational tools have you found to be most helpful?

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1 comment:

erzsebet said...

My most useful organizational tool is the decidedly low-tech combination of pen and paper, which I use to make lists of what needs to be done. I've found a memo pad that has space for about fifteen items is good to help prevent the list from getting overwhelming. Once I write my fifteen tasks, I assign days or even times of days to get the task accomplished. This helps keep me organized and sane. Plus, there's the happy feeling of satisfaction to be able to cross completed items off of the list!

Happy to see you back here at Gimme Bliss!

- erzsebet