10 Easy Maintenance Tips vs Piling on Chaos By Eve Abbott, Excerpted from her new book, How to Do Space Age Work with a Stone Age Brain TM
Whether you are in your own business or an employee (or neither) -- if you have a family and a home you are in business of having a life. I'm betting that none of you went into business to become hot at shuffling papers and reams of e-mail.
Eighty percent of clutter at work and at home is a result of disorganization, not lack of space! So if it's going to keep coming in and piling up, you've got to have an exit strategy. Regular maintenance is best way to keep your office tuned up, same as your vehicle.
The key 'success' habit is deciding immediately where each piece of paper or e-mail goes and what's next action required from you. Setting anything aside in 'decide later pile' just makes it worse. Every piece of clutter at work and at home is an unmade decision.
Use my Daily, Monthly and Yearly Maintenance tips to keep ahead of all that information --whether it's paper or computer. I guarantee you can manage your information more easily and successfully at work and at home when you do.
DAILY Unlike some wines, no piece of information improves with age. Set a certain time each day to sort, toss and refile both paper and e-mail. I do mine after lunch while I get through my post meal 'slump'.
Daily maintenance, like brushing your teeth, keeps you from collecting build-up in your systems.
Sort all your incoming materials daily; stand over recycle bins and get rid of all junk first. Sort into Action categories that make sense to you: to pay, to file, to review, etc. The daily sort is crucial just to keep your filing separate from Action items, and keep discards moving.
At home, your 'To File' first sort can be separated into personal and business filing (try a combination sorter:vertical for action/ horizontal for filing).
At work, separate client or product materials from company administrative files in your first sort. More filing category help under Monthly tips.
Set up magazine files for Reference items (catalogs, magazines). At home, make separate sort places to put receipts that refer to warranties, personal property records, or that you need to reconcile with monthly credit card and bank statements.
Use a compartment, or envelope in your briefcase or purse where you can easily stuff any receipts (especially if you travel). Then, use it. In office, have a drop box or action file for day-to- day expensed receipts from your briefcase or pockets.
MONTHLY Calendar definite times to do Maintenance and stick to them.
At home, try doing your paper filing only when you pay bills. As long as you schedule your maintenance every two weeks, you'll never miss a payment and you'll be up on your filing, too. In between bill paying time, simply do your daily sort: tossing, and putting bills, receipts, project materials in your Action area to be filed or paid when time comes.