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5 Easy Steps to Eliminate Those Perpetual Paper Piles in the Home Office

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Katyite Offers Tips to Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning

It’s a new year again, and time for a fresh start in your home office.  Take a look around your work area: is it clean and organized?  Or, like many other home offices, is it in dire need of streamlining?  What many career professionals working from home have found is that it is not as hard to keep systems, like a paper flow filing system, in place.  It is the initial setup that can be overwhelming.  Here are some easy steps to take to tackle the daily influx of paper and mail that inevitably stack up at the end of the day.  Once you implement these five tips, you’ll eliminate the stress and mess that come with the piles, and have a system in place for a smooth working year of paper-pile freedom.

1.        Have an action system in place for the first look – Do you already have an In/Out box that is overflowing onto your desk with the kids’ school papers, or junk mail?  A smart, stylish three-part filing rack, on the desk, or hung crisply on your office wall is a great solution.  A convenient label should designate what file is for which function: To Read, To File, To Do.  Of course, this can be customized for your specific filing need (i.e. Data Input, Reports to Send, etc.)  Keep to the “one time” rule, once that paper touches your hands, it must be filed into one of those slots, to prevent “shuffling” and unnecessary stress.

2.       Begin using a single notebook for notes, reminders, drafts, etc. – Quickly rid your work space of unsightly paper scraps, post-its, and other distracting methods by consolidating all of them into one area, a medium to large notebook, designated solely for your desk.  A trainer once taught me to put all notes in one notebook, like notes during phone calls, to-do lists, even post-its, to have within easy reach in one place later.  Now I can’t live without my notebook, and I rarely ever lose information anymore!

3.       Create a simplified filing system to encourage filing consistency – For example, for a family filing system, each person in the family gets a hanging file folder with several  different manila folders – Personal Papers, School, Medical Info, etc.  Chances are, with a simple system in place, the papers leaving the “To File” box, will go straight into the correct place, and take no time, every time.  If the system is hard to understand, or is redundant or complicated, papers will pile up because the dread of filing is too much!

4.       Do it daily – I know, I know, you didn’t choose to read this article just to be told this!  However, if the daily amount of papers is dealt with on a daily basis, it will only build to that level.  If it is left to pile, it will grow – exponentially!

5.       Go paperless on as much mail as possible – This is getting easier to accomplish, as more companies are streamlining their own systems, and facilitating paperless statements, bills, etc.  When the junk mail does come in, shred it that day.  Those pieces of paper should never make it to the “To Read” bin!

So, these methods, simple as they sound, go a long way in preserving your work surface, and sanity, as you work to success in 2011!

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