Getting started and Getting done ~ Paper Management



paper management



The hardest part of any project may be to get started or get done. This is especially true with your papers!  Choose one of these ten tips to help you make a difference, get going and get finished.


  • Put your perfectionism aside. Set a minimum expectation for yourself that can be accomplished by creating a project scope that allows for success. Instead of creating the “perfect” filing system, work with the big picture and use general, larger categories such as home and auto, finance, and personal.  Or just have one box marked 2012.  There is no one perfect way to file, so design what you need.


  • Make the project less overwhelming by making a list of the steps and products needed.  This will make the process more manageable. Start by getting the first step going and then the task falls into place. Make a list of the tasks for paper work. The list may include: pay bills, sort papers by alphabetical groups, file papers, eliminate junk for 5 minutes, or purchase extra files.


  • Break your work into smaller steps.  Use a timer and work just 15 minutes. Have a quick file group set up in the desk file drawer instead of the file cabinet.  For papers that arrive very frequently or that you use frequently, it is easy to just reach in.


  • Set a deadline to start or finalize your project and write it on your calendar.  As busy as we all are, there is never enough time to do all we want to do. Set a date on your calendar that is your administrative day to work on papers.


  • Give yourself permission to take all the time you need to work on papers. With a realistic time frame, you will get more accomplished on discarding, sorting and filing.   Assess your schedule and double the time you think it will take to finish.


  • Set the mood with music.  Having a soundtrack gets us moving. Choose your favorite background music, whether it is a playlist, country or classical.  Making it more fun makes paperwork easier.


  • Partner with someone who has the skills that match your skills. You pay the bills, your husband files the papers. You can delegate filing to your very organized teen too!


  • Make it routine.  Set the time aside and work regularly at your admin tasks with weekly admin time. Start with small bits of sorting and filing regularly and once the routine takes hold add on more.


  • Start when you are high energy.  Get a good night’s rest, have a small snack and work at your best time. Work at a time that works best for you, morning or evening.


  • Re-frame the work. Get a new perspective on why and how to work with your papers. Know what papers you want to keep and why.  Keep only what you need and be brutal about eliminating other papers.  The best resource for this is ABCs of Important Papers.


Paper management is much easier! What’s your first tip to try to make your paper work disappear?


1 reply
  1. Janet Barclay
    Janet Barclay says:

    I’d never thought of it in those terms, but you’re right: paper is like laundry! That’s why most people need a regularly scheduled time to get it done, at least once a month. I’m lucky because my husband looks after our bookkeeping now, and he files everything as soon as he’s done.

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