A simple solution for paper piles

paper-inbox 

 Do your papers need a home?

A command center is a simple system and solution for those paper piles.  This system will help you keep your office desk or your kitchen counter and table surfaces free of paper clutter.  Set one up in your home by following the instructions in this post and you will have the system up and running in no time.

There are two parts to the command center: The Desk Top File Box and The Tickler File.

Part One

The Desk Top File Box:

This file box will hold approximately 6-8 hanging folders.  Place it in a convenient area, preferably close to where you process your papers and mail.  For example: your kitchen counter or your office desk.

Sort your current pile of papers and mail.  Separate mail into categories according to the action that is needed.  Label the hanging folders in your desk top file box with the action needed and place the papers in those folders.

Some examples:

  • File—papers that need to be archived in a file cabinet or box.  File these papers when this folder is full.
  • Enter into computer—data entry, Quickbooks, ect.
  • To order—items you want to order off the internet or by phone.
  • Pending—when you are waiting for someone to get back to you.
  • Errands—a list of errands.
  • To call—return calls you need to make.
  • To write—letters or emails that need to be written.

Other papers may need to be referenced frequently.  Those papers will also need a home in labeled hanging files.

Some examples:

  • Coupons/Menus—restaurant take-out menus and coupons.
  • Receipts—file your debit and credit card receipts and other store receipts. You will easily find them if you need to return something.  Purge receipts on a monthly basis.
  • Diet/Exercise—healthy menus and class schedules for the gym.
  • Home/Work—papers that need to go back and forth from office to work.
  • School—class lists and teacher information for each school your children attend.
  • Projects—papers you have related to a work project, a home project or a big ticket item purchase (home or car).
  • P/T—exercises your physical therapist wants you to do.
  • Family/Other associates—Label a file folder with the name of each person in your household and the names of people you deal with on a regular basis(office assistant, boss, tutor). Use these folders to hold papers that refer to their activities and items that need to be discussed with them.

Part Two

The Tickler File:

The tickler file will reside in the front half of your desk top file box. The numbered tabs correspond to the days of the month.  There are also labeled tabs for each month of the year.

Use the tickler file for your papers that need to be completed by a certain date or are date specific.

Some examples:

  • Concert tickets
  • Sporting event tickets
  • A greeting card you purchased for a friend’s birthday
  • Bills
  • Invitations
  • Forms for a doctor appointment
  • Notes for a meeting

Determine when these papers need to be looked at again or acted upon and file accordingly.  If a bill is due on the 10th and you need to mail it, file it in front of the 5th tab. When a paper needs to be acted on in a future month, file it in front of that month’s tab. These papers will no longer be misplaced or clutter up your surfaces.

This system will work beautifully if you make it a habit to check your tickler file and your active files on a daily basis.  File papers in the system and remove papers as needed.  You may need to post reminders in your calendar or on sticky notes around your home/office to check Command Center, until it becomes a habit.

I find you will be more likely to use the command center if you place it in a visible location, not hidden in a cabinet.

Where will you put your command center?