Everyone is inundated with papers: mail, bills and projects. In just one hour, you can create a clear system to convert your piles into files!

1. Set a timer for 50 minutes:
Set aside 50 minutes to sort your most recent papers. Choose a date and time that you will be able to focus and not be interrupted. Close the door, turn off the phones, silence your email notification sound and consider keeping this turned off as it only serves as a distraction!

2. Begin to sort into categories: Trash, Recycling/Shred, Delegate and Keep
Start with the most recent pile and look at the first paper that is on top. Make a decision about that document:

Is it trash? Can it be recycled? Does it need to be shredded? Can you delegate that to someone else? Do you need to keep it?

If you choose to keep that paper, decide whether it can be filed or if an action needs to be taken first.

3. Create a Filing System for You:
There are two types of filing systems: Active and Reference.
Reference files are those you keep in a filing cabinet or file drawer and are only used occasionally. Active files are your current documents that need to have an action taken.

Set up an Active file system that lives either on your desk or somewhere within arm’s reach of where you sort through your papers. Typical topics are: Bills to Pay, To Read, To Call, etc.
Create a new project folder immediately, to give all related paperwork a home.

Celebrate that in less than an hour, you have created some clarity on your desk! In the last few minutes, empty the trash, recycling and shredder and tidy any future piles that you did not get to. Remember, if your Inbox is overflowing, it is time to set aside 50 minutes to sort and purge!

© 2009 Organized 4 Success, Inc.

Author's Bio: 

Written by Shannon McGinnis, Santa Cruz's only Certified Professional Organizer, and the founder of Organized 4 Success, Inc.™ Shannon publishes the monthly "Strategies 4 Success Ezine" which offers free tips, articles and advice on how to be more organized. If you enjoyed this article, you can receive your FREE Strategies 4 Success newsletter from Shannon now at: Organized4Success.com. She is also the author of The 10-Minute Tidy™: 108 Ways to Organize Your Home Quickly. The 10-Minute Tidy provides easy to implement organizing solutions for every area of the home: 10minutetidy.com