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Paper Organization Challenge – Day 4: Action Files

Paper Organization Action Files

For today’s Paper Organization Challenge, we’re going to cover organizing paper that still needs your attention.

Now that you’ve spent a few days sorting your papers into broad categories, it’s time to start taking a closer look at each category. Let’s begin by dealing with the pile that you may have called “To Do,” or “Action.” These are the papers that generally accumulate all over the kitchen counters, or your desktop, or any flat surface they can find.

If you find it nerve-racking and stressful to look at piles of paper. If you find yourself worrying about what might be lingering in there, or what deadline may have been missed, or what bill has gone unpaid … here is a simple solution: use a desktop file box (like the one pictured here) to create your own Action File System.

The key to an Action File System is that papers are organized according to what action is required. You’ve just spent 2 days sorting paper into broad categories … so you should be getting a bit used to grouping “like items” together.

Your Action File System should have approximately 10 categories (again, think broad). Here’s what you do: pick up a piece of paper and ask yourself, “what is the first thing I need to do about this matter?” Hint: think in terms of verbs. Your answer will be your category.

Here are some suggested Action File categories:

  • To Call
  • To Pay
  • To Read
  • Discuss
  • Data Entry
  • Waiting For
  • Write
  • Schedule
  • To File

Once you have your Action File established, keep it in a prominent spot (ideally, right where you generally place your incoming mail). And the most important piece of advice: use this system daily. After all, the papers you have placed in here need your attention!

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