Tag Archive for: paper piles

Paper Triage


paper management


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.


What is 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.


Resources for what to keep and what to toss.

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.)


Paper triage routines

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 admininstrative 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?


Need new ideas for paper management?  Check out my pinterest board Paper, Paper, Everywhere.

More than paper management

Paper is an overwhelming source of frustration and emotion! There are so many levels of this that I see with my clients.

  • Being overwhelmed with the tsunami of paper.   You don’t know what to keep and how long to keep it.  You need a list as a resource.  http://www.oprah.com/home/The-ABCs-of-Important-Papers.  This online resource will get you started, but every one has a little different “tweak.”   Be sure to consult your accountant for your special needs.
  • You love articles and information.   Having a paper copy reminds you to read the information. However you are getting overwhelmed with information now.  Begin an awareness of how to gather information in other ways, from people, the internet searchs, blogs and other mediums.   Remember that even information “gets old” in our era. 
  • Needing a system to deal with paper.  You know what to keep, but you have no categories to work with paper.  You need a command center system to deal with your papers, and a routine to follow up. http://www.professional-organizer.com/tips_family_communication_center.html.   This online resource will help you move from overwhelmed to in control.
  • Emotional flood when seeing papers.  You experience guilt or shame when reviewing your papers. Your papers remind of you of people you did not call, tasks you did not follow through with, or general remorse about how to deal with paper.   Papers are more than just paper.  Working together with a professional organizer/productivity consultant and therapist can help you move forward with your paper challenges. 
  • Paper systems need to be perfect.  Being a perfectionism keeps you from getting started in dealing with your paper. There must be a perfect system and you strive to create it.  Working with a professional organizer/productivity consultant can help you create your personal system and routines.

It can be more than just bits and scraps to you.   Identifying where youare paralyzed can be powerful.  Partnering with a professional organizer/productivity consultant will get you unstuck. 

What awareness comes to mind for you with paper?