For me, paper organization was the last skill I mastered as I got control of my executive functioning deficits.
I found my inspiration in David Allen’s Getting Things Done. His best advice: file alphabetically and use a label maker. I fought the whole alphabetizing approach for years because my brain has trouble remembering titles. One day I might use one title and the next something else, but I’ve gotten over this issue by occasionally making a dummy ‘empty” file that directs me to the actual file.
To get started, I got some sturdy colorful alphabetical dividers, and purchased reenforced tab file folders because they stay much nicer (they don’t get bent out shape and ragged looking). Then I purchased David Allen’s secret weapon for using a filing system – the label maker.
I found that Allen is spot on when he says that there is something about having a clean, professional label on your files. Somehow it makes you want to USE them.
My filing system consists of four drawers. One area of my desk holds those files that I use constantly, business financial files, upcoming presentations and projects, my time management forms, blog ideas, and business associates.
The other three drawers, across the room from my desk, house two additional categories of files. One set are business files that are for reference and the other set are files connected to my home and family. I think breaking the files into these three categories makes it easier for my brain to deal with the need to alphabetize.
So, set up a filing system, get those piles under control and stop driving yourself crazy looking for that important paper you put somewhere.
Don’t try and do this all at one time. Set a timer and work in 15-30 minutes blocks. Using this organizational skill, little by little you’ll get a filing system that will support your sanity and your ability to get things done on time.
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.