Paper Management. How are you Handling it?

Ask a disorganized busy professional or business owner what their #1 issue is when it comes to being organized and they will tell you it is paper management. Even though most of our information is stored in our computers, paper is still around and it will be around for a long time. As long as it is around, you need to have a system to handle your paper.

Are you working off piles on the floor?  Do you have a mound of paper on your desk? Are you missing checks or cash? Does it take you more than 10 seconds to locate a file? Are you late paying your bills?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have paper management issues that need to be handled ASAP. You will be losing clients, time and money due to your issues with paper in your office. Get your paper under control!

Every office is different, but the process to handle paper can be the same. Whether your paper is coming through the mail, email, fax, or through interoffice, have a system to process each and every paper that comes through your hands. The longer you let it pile up, the easier it is to continue to throw more papers into the pile and before you know it, you are in over your head.

Here are 5 quick tips that might be helpful with some of the paper you are having difficulty with:

  1. File your monthly receipts in an accordion file labeled with the months. Another option would be to have a monthly pouch and at the end of the month, match and attach receipts to your credit card statements and file in a designated folder.
  2. Have a folder for any tax/insurance information that you acquire over the year. As soon as it comes in, file it away.
  3. Don’t let money/checks/credit cards get lost in the mix. I guarantee if you are drowning in paper, there is money in those piles. I have seen it too many times to count. Handle your money as soon as you receive it. If you aren’t able to handle it right away, dedicate a pouch to your money so you at least have a place to store it until you can get to it.
  4. Don’t let business cards that you receive get thrown in the mix of the pile. Find a system that works for you to organize your cards. Deal with them as soon as you get them or depending on how many you collect a week, maybe set 5-10 minutes a week on a certain day to handle your cards.
  5. Be sure you have file folders for your payables/invoices. As soon as you pay the bills, file them in labeled folders. Have a file folder for each company you pay bills to. Label and alphabetize these folders so they can be found quickly.

I know everybody is busy and some may say it is difficult to file every day. It is ok if you can’t get to filing items on a daily basis, BUT at least have a folder that you can drop documents into and then at the end of the week re-visit the folder and file the contents away. Be sure that folder is empty by Friday afternoon so you can start your week fresh on Monday!

It is not just about the systems you create. Maintaining the systems and creating routines is what is going to keep you on track and keep you organized.

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