Ready to implement a new filing system? While choosing your system is an important first step, most of us get stuck when it comes time to actually do the work. So here are some ideas about how to get started:

First, block out about one hour of time. Prior to that time, gather folders, labeling tools, trash container, and papers accumulated over the past week. That is correct: only those from the past week. During the hour, sort the papers into categories, create appropriate file folders, and place the papers into the files. Please do not forget that one of your categories can be "trash." If the paper doesn't provide crucial information and if it can be replaced, throw it out! Only about 20 percent of the paper that is filed is ever referenced again; therefore consider filing only the 20 percent.

You will notice that I didn't say anything about papers which may already be somewhat filed or completely piled. This is because dealing with a backlog can be very overwhelming. Instead vow that from the date that you start and going forward, that you will file papers as they come in. This is best done by setting aside 10 to 15 minutes a week to file. Guess what happens if you don't plan to file? —You will return to piles and to a state of overwhelm.

Additionally, you will be frustrated when you can't find an important piece of paper. Plus you will have wasted time that you could have used doing something that you would have enjoyed. Maintenance won't happen on its own. You must plan it into your schedule.

What about those old papers? Set a timer for 15 minutes once or twice a week to go through some of the paper piles. An alternative is to sort and file a stack when you find that you need a paper from the pile. Don't just dig down to find what you need; look at what you pass along the way and put them away.

Keep your papers manageable by implementing a remove-and-replace policy where appropriate. For example, when you receive your new health, home, or car insurance policy, toss the previous one and replace with the new one. Unless you need to keep utility bills for tax purposes, once you receive your new bill reflecting that you paid your previous bill, you can toss the one from the preceding month.

Vigilance is your best friend when trying to keep your papers contained!

Author's Bio: 

© 2011 Janice Russell, CPO-CD, COC. North Carolina’s only Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization and Certified Organizer Coach, Janice Russell, and her firm, Minding Your Matters® Organizing, have built a reputation for helping business and residential clients organize their space, items, documents, and time using the flexible structure principle™. Janice’s workshops on topics such as tackling the “no time” trap, perishing paper piles, and stopping stuff from being overwhelming are dynamic, informative, and practical. Minding Your Matters® is dedicated to helping people achieve organization with lasting results™ in their professional and personal lives. Janice is highly regarded within her industry. She is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and Program Mentor Coach for the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. Janice is an author, speaker, and organizer coach. For more information, please visit or call 919-467-7058.

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