26 July 2008

Paperwork: lighten the load

By Julie Morgenstern

To make it easier to decide what to get rid of ask yourself these 10 questions of each piece of paper you are unsure of:

1. Are there tax/legal reasons to keep it?

2. Do I refer often to this piece of paper?

3. Will it help me complete a project I am working on right now?

4. Do I have time to do anything with this piece of paper?

5. Does it tie-in with the core activities of my job?

6. If I ever needed it again, could I easily get it from someone else?

7. Do I trust that the information is up to date?

8. Does it represent a viable business opportunity?

9. Will it help me make money?

10. Would my work suffer if I didn't have it?

And, the following items should be pretty easy to get rid of, without much thought:

+ Product Solicitations- Ads and mailings for software, catalog items, etc. If you aren't ready to buy right now, toss them. New ads will be filling your mailbox in no time, and you'll buy from the most recent mailing when you are ready.

+ Old magazines, books and articles- If you haven’t referred to them in the last 12 months, get rid of them. New, updated information is available at every turn.

+ Old research materials and literature- These rarely referred to items are bulky, taking up a lot of precious space in our files and cabinets. Keep the source, toss the paper—maintain a list of sources by topic in your Rolodex.

+ Document duplicates- In most cases, there is no need to keep more than 2 of any document. Keep the original in a plastic sleeve and one copy on hand for easy circulation.

+ Early drafts of letters and proposals- Retain only your final version. After all, previous drafts contain information you decided not to use!

+ Excess supplies- Get rid of bulky, space-hogging supplies you don't use. Keep your supply drawers lean and organized so you can easily see if you are running out of important items before a crisis hits.

Check out Julie's advice on Oprah's site too.

The above information is excerpted material from Julie's book "Organizing From the Inside Out."

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