Cutting Paper Clutter in Five Easy Steps

Mountains. Stacks. Cascades.

Whatever word you use to describe it, paper clutter can be overwhelming. Here are some practical paper management steps I teach my clients to help embrace the old adage everything in its proper place and regain control of your workspace.

1. Clear all the paper from your desk and the surrounding workspace. (Yes, all those piles on the floor and on top of cabinets and counters do count.) Organize the papers into piles on a conference table or other clean, flat surface.

2. Create three boxes. Standard, stackable trays will do. Or, get a little creative and repurpose a sturdy folder or other container. You can label the boxes:

• Now – the place for any papers you need immediate access to

• File - the place for any papers you must keep, but can file away.

• Later – the place for papers you want to keep in reach, but don’t need to access right away.

3. Sort and toss. Going through the piles one at a time, sort the papers into the appropriate boxes. Shred or recycle any remaining papers.

4. File away. Using sturdy file folders, clearly label them by function or purpose (for example: Clients, Marketing, Vendors). After placing papers into labeled files, put the files into the folders in a logical order (for example: alphabetically, chronologically or by order of importance).

5. Close the file drawer. Step back and take a deep, satisfying breath.