Wisconsin Lawyer: Digging Out from Under Your Piles:

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    Digging Out from Under Your Piles

    Ross L. Kodner & Dale W. Cottam

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 80, No. 3, March 2007

    Our offices may never be paperless, but we can reduce the amount of paper and other clutter that we generate and keep. Professional organizer and State Bar staff member Cheryl Bowes offers these tips to help you get organized.

    1) Set aside time to dedicate to this task.

    2) Bring in a large recycling container and a trash can.

    3) Have file folders and hanging vertical files available.

    4) Start with one pile at a time and continue sorting until your desk is clear.

    5) Touch each piece of paper only once. Decide what to do with each paper by using the R.A.F.T. principle:

    • Refer the item to someone else
    • Act on the item
    • File the paper
    • Toss or recycle

    Note: Add action items to brightly colored folders such as a "call about this" file, "to read later" file, "pay this bill" file, or "add this to my list of contacts" file. Paper that can be retrieved electronically may not need to be kept in hard copy.

    6) Store desk supplies in a divided drawer tray or in small see-through containers. Do not hoard supplies. Keep extra supplies such as paper clips, pencils, and sticky notes in a closet or storeroom.

    7) Take time at the end of each day to clear off your desk so that you can start the next day feeling organized.

    8) Review your action item files at least once a week to ensure you are not overlooking anything important.

    There are many print and online resources to help you get organized, Bowes says. Some of her favorites include:

    • www.OnlineOrganizing.com - brings professional organizers, product manufacturers, and the general public together in one common forum to solve everyday organizing problems.
    • www.napo.net - the National Association of Professional Organizers' mission is to develop, lead, and promote professional organizers and the organizing industry.
    • www.getorganizednow.com - Get Organized Now!™ offers free tips, ideas, checklists, articles, e-courses, slideshows, a discussion forum, a monthly e-newsletter, and more to help people organize their homes, offices, and lives.
    • www.davidco.com - The David Allen Co. is a professional training, coaching, and management consulting organization that offers information, education, and products that enhance productivity, including the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.