How To Organize Files
and Papers

To organize files so you can find exactly what you need, when you need it, you need to know a few simple steps.

The paper just keeps coming in

The challenge with papers and how to organize files is often simply the overwhelming amount…and the fact that more and more paper just keeps coming in.

So if you get behind, it can feel almost impossible to dig yourself out. But you totally can clear out your paper clutter…and we’re going to get started right now.

I’m going to teach you my system to go through the backlog of papers you have right now, as well as an extremely effective (and simple) way to stay on top of all the new paper coming in.

Each piece of paper represents a 'to-do'

One of the other reasons you may feel overwhelmed when you have a lot of paper and want to organize files is that every one of those papers represents some kind of to-do or action item, right?

So in addition to showing you how to handle the papers, we’re also going to focus on keeping that list of ‘to-do’s’ as short as possible, while still making sure you're moving forward on the things that you truly want to do.

Be realistic about what you can actually DO

One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve worked with thousands of clients is that most people have the very strong belief that they can actually DO everything they think they’d like to do, should do, that  would be nice to do, interesting things that show up in their life…and you simply can’t do it all.

No matter how organized or efficient or on top of things you are, there will always be many, many more activities and options to choose from than you could ever do in one lifetime.

And that's OK.

In fact, it's wonderful...there will always be something interesting around the corner.

However, when you think you should do everything, you have likely set yourself up for overwhelm.

Let’s focus on making room for what really matters to you, shall we?

Let's start where you'll see the biggest difference

To organize papers and organize files, I recommend starting with the loose papers that are right in front of you first…the stuff in piles on the floor, the overflowing inbox, the post-it notes on your computer, and so on.

Clear out the visible, most recent papers first, which is the best way to see visible, tangible progress right away (and help keep you motivated to tackle the out-of-sight backlog in your filing cabinet!)

For best results, complete each step before moving to the next

I recommend doing each step in order and completing each one before moving to the next one, at least as you're getting started. You will likely find, as you get more comfortable with each step and have less of a paper backlog, that you can combine a few of the steps (I'll give you some tips on how to do so in each segment).

In each segment, you will use a different part of your brain and take a different kind of action.

Keeping the steps separate will dramatically simplify the process, and also help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

If you're already starting to feel a little overwhelmed, stop and quietly breathe for a few moments. Get connected with yourself again.

And then take one little step.

Start with 'Gather.' Read the instructions; twice through may be extra supportive. Then do that step through to completion.

Once you've completed that step to organize files, stop and do something wonderful for yourself. 'Gather' is a full step in itself, so celebrate. No need to do anything more just yet. Enjoy the feeling of completing that step.

Then, when you feel ready (and that may be right now, or tomorrow, or the next day), do the 'Sort' step. Again, it's a full step in itself. Celebrate!  (and continue through each step that way...)

Bite-size steps (and lots of celebrating!) make a big task so much easier.

Ready to get started?

Here are the steps to organize files and clear out your paper clutter (and keep it that way):




And for more information about which papers to keep (and which to toss):

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