Saturday, March 02, 2013

solutions to swimming in paper

So here I am, swimming in paper and trying to get organized. It was an unusual sunny day in northern Germany and, did I get to enjoy it? No, I was drowning in trying to find something. Actually I was looking for just ONE important piece of paper (ever had that happen?). I need it to show that I'm registered with the city at this address... so I can register a new (well, it's used, but it's new for me) company car in my name at our local motor vehicles' office.

If you're like me and have trouble organizing yourself in a paper world-- read further from a fellow traveler (if not-- skip this and enjoy my photos on the other posts! ha!). Here are a few hints that I'm trying to practice...

  1. First, ban the paper world to enter your home at all. That colorful Sunday bulletin? Read it at church, and then leave it there. Or, if you do have something enter your apartment, have a place near the front door where you can deposit unwanted mail flyers or grocery store ads into right away, and then later take them to the paper recycling. At a conference? See if some of the hand-outs you really like are actually in digital form and if the conference speaker would give it to you.
  2. If you have a crisis and just HAVE to find that crucial one piece of paper-- consider it a blessing. God is helping you get motivated... because goodness knows, I bet you really DO thrive in a cleaner and more organized world, right?
  3. Don't JUST search for that one thing, but, if you have some time, "redeem" the hours to really dig in and create new space: enjoy those old photos that were stacked up, to put those travel lotions back where they can be found when you really need them, to file away those bank statements or medical forms.
  4. Don't file everything as you handle it, or run to another room with each item which you un-earth -- some items or "categories" come up several times over the course of an hour, so it's good to create a few stacks and then now and then put them away. For instance, when you realize you've got those bank statements sandwiched in between the stack, start a new pile just with THAT bank, and then file them, when you have more than one months' worth.
  5. As you open a file, figure out if you need to not just put something IN, but also clean part of it OUT of there, from older paperwork (such as 2003 frequent flyer mileage updates).
  6. Listen to music, or to a Podcast, while you work...
  7. Leave your drinks in the kitchen-- that gives you encouragement to stretch those legs every now and then and keep up your energy.
  8. Let yourself get just a WEE bit distracted, so you don't start crying ... (like my writing this blog in the middle of the search-- I'm still on the look-out for that paper!).
  9. Consider learning how to get rid yourself of even more paper, by using Evernote (I'm just barely into this but exploring how I might need to shift into a paperless world very soon). Consider Michael's Hyatt's blog posts on this! If you DO use this extensively, I'd love to get a coaching session...
  10. So... what is YOUR tip or suggestion... ?? I'd enjoy more ideas...