Get your paper piles under control

Executive Functioning Tip #8: Paper Piles

(Tip #8 of the series 15 Tips to Support Your Brain for Good Time Management)

Paper piles

Getting your paper piles organized is not as hard as it look!

Piles of paper haunt many people who have issues with executive functioning. For me, paper management was the last piece of getting my time management act together. Folks with ADHD also tend to have paper management challenges.

I was set on the right paper management path when I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. He has a few chapters devoted to getting “out of control” piles into control. In this blog I’ll get you started. Future blogs will tell you more!

Almost everyone knows the old adage about paper: “Handle it once.” David adds the dimension of time. If you can do what the page in your hand requires in less than two minutes, David says deal with it right then. So if it is a bill to pay, write the check and put a stamp on it. Put it in the mailbox. This takes me more than two minutes, so my personal rule is more like a three-minute cut off.

Each piece of paper in your inbox or pile requires answering the following questions:

  1. Is this worth even looking at? If not, recycle it.
  2. Can I do this in less than three minutes?  If yes, just do it.
  3. If it is going to take more than three minutes, then put it in your tickler file and schedule a time to do it (more about how to create a tickler file here).
  4. Is this an appointment or commitment you need to put on your calendar? Do it.
  5. Does someone else need to see this? Get it to them.
  6. Do you need this for reference?  File it or scan it.
  7. Are you undecided about it? Put it in your tickler file.

Set aside time each day to manage your incoming paper. By processing each piece of paper through this series of questions, my piles have disappeared. Seriously!

What strategies to organize your paper have worked for you? Please comment below!

About the Author Marydee Sklar

Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program® and the Set Up Success and Seeing My Time® planners. 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.

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