How To Organize Files
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
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
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
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
to do, interesting
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
everything, you have likely set yourself up for overwhelm.
Let’s focus on making room for what really matters to you
Let's start where you'll see the biggest difference
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
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
also help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
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.
you've completed that step to organize files, stop and do something
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.
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
Ready to get started?
Here are the steps to organize files and clear out your paper
(and keep it
And for more information about which papers to keep (and
which to toss):