Monday, September 25, 2006

PAPERS, the bane of my existence. The challenge for many people, including myself, is knowing where to file them so that they can be retrieved at a later date. As a speaker, author and workshop facilitator, I am always clipping out articles and jotting down ideas. I was beginning to recognize that my system was outdated and it was hard for me to find specific information.
My task: to purge the drawer of my filing cabinet. I often say that organizers are not immune to the challenges of staying organized and that means every so often (at least once a year), I need to go through my files, paper by paper, and assess whether I want to hang on to the information or if it is outdated and can be recycled. A sign that this needs to be done is when it gets harder and harder to maneuver file folders and pull out papers.
Before you begin, make sure that you have all of the supplies you need. A place to sit and spread out your papers, a recycle bin and papers to make note of action items.
As you can see, things look worse before they get better. I took this opportunity to create new files that reflect my current interests and to group information in ways that make sense to me.
Almost done. The floor is clear and now I have two main piles to deal with.
The last pile. I have decided to free up space in my filing cabinet by creating a binder that holds all of my workshop materials. I will make use of dividers and plastic sleeves to better organize these materials.
Here it is. Don't be afraid to make use of colours to spice up your filing system. I have also taped an announcement about an inspiring speaker that I heard on the front of one of the dividers. People are more likely to file if they have personalized their tools and included motivational quotes.

Tadah: the workshop binder! Now, when I am planning a workshop, I can quickly pull this binder from the shelf and find handouts, materials and past outlines of workshops I have presented. The material is easy to access and I can quickly flip through it for ideas or reference. All together, this project took about 31/2 hours spread out over a five hour period. I took one 10 minute break after I had flipped through every piece of paper in the file cabinet, and then I took an hour off to walk the dog and enjoy the sunshine before returing to the task at hand. Breaks can be vital for mental clarity and creative ideas. Plus, getting out for some exercise meant that I wasn't resentful about missing a beautiful, sunny day. Don't be afraid to take breaks as required, just make sure you return to finish the job!