We hear that philosophy, Only Handle It Once, OHIO, for paper all the time. But what if we thought of a new mantra for our paper strategy, paper triage.
Paper triage is when we sort the important from the trash. We make the first brutal decision of what to keep and what to eliminate. In this one step, we are taking paper from overwhelming to in control. We are making decisions about what is a priority or not. Just like triage in the medical field, we are getting to what is most important first. To be most effective with triage, we need to be honest about what we keep and why we keep it. Empower yourself to make bold decisions and keep less. Except for bills, many papers will come around again, such as electric rates, credit card offers, and information in general.
If in doubt there are two great resources for what to keep. On www.oprah.com, look at the ABCs of Important Papers by Julie Morgenstern (http://www.oprah.com/home/The-ABCs-of-Important-Papers). This is a lengthy list of what to keep and for how long. Also you can review on www.realsimple.com the five steps to simpler record keeping is a quick reference (http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/5-steps-to-simpler-record-keeping-10000000688976/index.html.)
Do you already do some sort of triage? I hear from clients “I sorted my paper in the kitchen, but now what? There are still piles!” This is when we add admin time to a weekly slot. We commit to a time we can now really work on the paper, again by prioritizing. Make a list of the tasks associated with each paper, then review and prioritize. Establishing your command center with these slots, Action, Pay, Pending, and File, give you another visual reminder of what your tasks will be during admin time. If you need additional categories, Receipts, School and Church may help you too.
Best time to triage? Its really up to you! Can you do it right when you get the paper and work at your command center? Do you need time without distraction? Set aside this time daily to prevent being overwhelmed.
When will you do your triage and get your paper under control?