Here are 3 simple ways to start that can be done in under an hour!
Are the paper piles taking over your space and your life?
Getting in control of your paper begins with clearing the clutter.
Start with your purse or wallet, the kitchen counter, or your desktop.
If you were looking at your desk right now, would you be ready to work or overwhelmed by the chaos? What if you were looking at your kitchen counter? Are the paper piles taking over? For some mysterious reason, paper lands in every nook and cranny of our homes and offices. You will find it on the kitchen table, the bedroom dresser, top of the washer, in the bathroom, piled high on desktops and all horizontal surfaces across the nation. Never before in mankind’s history have we had this much information coming at us.
I want to offer some simple places to start since this project can feel huge. This starts you clearing without getting lost in the details. Keep in mind we will take you through SEE IT. MAP IT. DO IT. PAPER next. Choose one of the following ideas, schedule the time, turn on music and dive in. Have boxes and bags on hand for goes elsewhere, shred, trash, and goes to someone else.
HOUR OF POWER:
Set your timer for one hour and journey around your home or office gathering all the garbage paper such as old receipts, junk mail, out-dated papers, etc. Keep in mind that you are only going after the obvious and easy stuff. If you have to stop and think about it, then wait. You can also clear your purse or wallet. You are only doing one hour but you might be surprised and amused by how much goes away.
CLEAR THE COUNTER:
Gather all the paper on your kitchen counter and sort into 4 smaller piles labeled Read, Action, File or Toss (you will learn more about this later). Do I want to read it, take action on it, need to file it or just toss it? Move the read and actions piles to their own container and location, the filing to your file drawers and toss into shred or trash. Lastly, find a beautiful container to live on the kitchen counter for the future incoming.
DO THE DESKTOP:
Follow the guidance given above for sorting into R.A.F.T. Keep in mind that you are only sorting and don’t get sidetracked by trying to take the actions involved with the paper. Also, you will most likely find many papers and items that don’t even belong on your desk. Take the time now to remove them. It is ok to have open space left as you do need an area to work off of.
When you are done, take some deep breaths and notice how different the area you worked with feels. It can be fun to take pictures of all the stuff leaving. Let yourself take in the change and celebrate what you have done.
Now enjoy fixing food at your kitchen counter and actually working at your desk!
Get Your FREE Paper Guide
Your Guide Marla Dee.
I love teaching the Clear & Simple Way to live free of clutter and get organized at last.
Incoming – every paper item that comes into your life
Read – magazines, articles, letters, cards
Act – requires you do something (make a call, pay a bill…)
File – file it quickly and be able to retrieve it easily
Toss – shred or recycle
*Please note that we recommend implementing this system and starting in present time. Once you are familiar with it and have every step in place, then go to the piles, filing drawers, etc. to clear out and clean up. Paper is its own beast and is very overwhelming. If you desire the help of an organizer, please connect with us.
INCOMING: In the same way that incoming emails land in the inbox, it is vital to create a container and spot for mail, thoughts, and information. The key elements when establishing a place for incoming communications are:
The location of the container needs to be close to the place of entry.
The container size needs to take into account the volume of information coming in.
The container should ideally be vertical with a large, open entry. If you use a horizontal container, select one that is open and comes with a lid.
The design of the container is important. Match the environment & personality of the user.
READ: Choose a container for fast reading on the go, like a mesh folder in your briefcase, and a larger container/location for reading while you are sitting, both for personal and work. Keep the following in mind:
The right size of container is critical.
Location of the container is key. Put it where you will do the reading.
There is a difference between “quiet” and “active” reading.
There needs to be a system for when the reading happens.
ACTION: Everyone needs an action system for the communications that require action. Please keep the following guidelines in mind:
It is imperative to have a container for papers that need immediate attention, action, and decision.
The container for your action file should be visual, vertical, and easy to sort into and work out of.
Coupled with the container needs to be a system to address how often you will take action weekly.
Refer to the action system section below for details on these areas.
FILE: In this container place items that are ready to be filed as reference, storage or archive.
TOSS: It is so helpful to have recycle, shred and trash bins close to your processing area.
*Please note that we recommend implementing this system and starting in present time. Once you are familiar with it and have every step in place, then go to the piles, filing drawers, etc. to clear out and clean up. Paper is its own beast and is very overwhelming. If you desire the help of an organizer, please contact us.
iRAFT begins with INCOMING:
As we mentioned above, the information is coming from many places; the mail box is only one. Think about how much easier it is to start into your email because it is in your INBOX. So for the paper, choose a container that will hold a week’s worth of incoming paper and put everything there! This includes mail, flyers, notes, etc… You also need a place for thoughts, conversations and such to land. You might use an app on your smart phone, Evernote or a small spiral notebook.
Then once a week (or more often if needed) you will take all the incoming and sort it into four piles. You simply ask do I need to Read, take an Action, File or Toss. Then take the paper (or move the emails) into the each container or folder.
Choose a cool container for your reading that is staying at your desk, your reading chair and for on-the-go.
Every home and office needs an action container for those papers that need your attention such as bills to pay, errands to run and items to discuss with someone else. We suggest making your container vertical so that it is easy to find what you need and leave the other items organized. It is also nice to have it portable so it can move around your space.
We often ask our clients to describe how they feel about FILING. We hear words like yuck, overwhelming, impossible, always behind, drawers are full. And there is a constant theme of not know what to keep or for how long. So start with setting up a “to file” container and then schedule time once a week or once a month to file, depending on your volume. If you really hate filing then get someone else to do it.
By sorting once a week into RAFT, your tossing of the paper is now easy. Have fun noticing how much of that paper pain is really toss papers. Of course you can still throw away junk mail and such before it even lands in your space.
To summarize the SYSTEM:
Daily – plop all the incoming paper and information into the container.
Weekly – take 5 minutes to sort into 4 piles – Read, Action, File, Toss. Then take each pile to it’s proper container.
Weekly – set your TimeTimer for 30 minutes and do the action papers that need to get done that week.
Monthly – take your To File pile and file into your FreedomFiler system.