Tag Archive: paper over load

When it comes to getting and staying organized one challenge is the #1 culprit, paper, also known as, the paper tiger.  This is true for both home and work environments.  If you’re challenged with clutter, look at the clutter to see what percentage of your clutter is paper.  Of all the things that can possibly clutter any given space, paper usually paper comes out on top, not that it’s a good thing.

The paper tiger comes about for several reasons: people keep documents that are no longer relevant or that they don’t need, they don’t have a system in place for dealing with paper or their filing system is inadequate and usually they aren’t aware that paper falls into one of three categories-action, reference or archive.  No matter what your challenge is, there is a simple process for getting and keeping control of your paper.

If you’re like most, you have stacks of paper.  Get yourself out of the overwhelm conversation and start by dealing with one stack of paper at a time.  Go through each one piece of paper at a time and determine the following:


  • Is it relevant; do you need it?  Can you get the information again, perhaps from a book or online?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen if you got rid of it?
    • If it’s no longer relevant, get rid of it!
  • If it is relevant, what needs to happen to it?
    • Does it need to be filed?
    • Do you need to take action on it?
    • Does it need to go to someone else?
  • Sort  the paper  into separate bins; one designated for each of the three options
  • Once that stack is sorted, move to the next stack and continue until you’ve worked your way through each
  • Next, take action on the items in each bin
    • Do the filing
    • Take action on items that require you to do something
    • Delegate the items that need to go to someone else

Finally, to keep the tiger from becoming untamed again, set up a system to help you manage your paper and keep it under control and create new habits that support you in maintaining that system.

To manage all that there is to do, in addition to discarding, the second “D” to choose from is “Delegate”.  Remember that this applies to the items on your to-do list, snail mail, email and phone calls.

Delegate It-If you don’t have to be the one to do it, give it to someone else.  You might think that in the time it takes for you to explain something to someone you could do the task yourself.  The truth of the matter is that if you take the time to set that foundation, you really do save yourself time in the long run.  If there are things that can be delegated, determine who the right person is; give them clear instruction on what needs to be done and a due date for what you’ve assigned.  Make sure the instruction and due date are clear.  If what you’re handing over is crucial or might take a longer period of time to complete, set dates for status updates so that you know where things stand on a regular basis.

With today’s fast moving pace and people continually doing more and more, there is always more than enough to do.  Every day we’re bombarded with email, snail mail, to-do lists and the number one culprit, paper.  The only way to manage it all is with effective systems, processes and habits that support you.  With the many things you have on your plate it’s necessary to have those things in place to make your day a productive one.  To make that happen you have to make choices about what to do with everything that comes across your desk every day.  You have to choose from the three Ds: discard, delegate, or do it now.  These next few posts will cover the three Ds.

Considering the amount of paper you encounter every day, making a choice is important.  It would be nice to only handle each piece of paper once, but it’s just not possible, which also makes it that much more important to choose one of the three Ds.  You might only think about being able to only make those choices with paper, but the same can be done with items on your to-do list, snail mail, email and phone calls.  The first time you touch a piece of paper, read an email or a piece of snail mail, or have a request that comes via phone or voice mail, choose to act by discarding, delegating or doing it now.

Discard It-if you don’t need it any longer or you can get it again (from a book, the internet, etc.), get rid of it.  Shred it or recycle it.  Throwing away something that you don’t need is one of the best things you can do.  It’s a small step, but it keeps the clutter away.

Time and Space (c) 2015, 2011 [ Back to top ]