10 ways to eliminate paper & manage your time efficiently?

Where does your time go? Are you wondering, you are spending from half to 70 per cent of your working time dealing with paper – writing it, reading it, filing it, looking through it for another paper? That’s where your time goes.


The coming of the computer was supposed to usher in the Era of the paperless office, but if anything, computers have increased the flow of paper. If you are ever going to get control of your time, which is to say your life, you are going to have to control the paper flood. What to do? Here are ten suggestions for getting a hold on it.

10 Ways you can reduce control and eliminate paper


1. Adopt a Constant Companion:

Keep a notebook with you all the time, in your attaché case, in your desk drawer, in your coat pocket or purse, on your night table. Capture those stray insights and write yourself reminders. This way you won’t lose your ideas, and you wont wind up with scraps of paper cluttering your life.


2. Manage your desktop(s):

A place for everything and everything in its place, on the actual desktop and the virtual one in the computer. We are not talking neatness here. We are talking organization. Your desktop may extend to the floor and every other flat surface not already covered. But as long as you know where everything is and can lay your hands on it without having to wade through the stuff you don’t want, you are in good shape.


3. Touch it once:

How many times do you pick up the same piece of paper, glance as it, scow and toss it back on the desk, promising yourself that you will deal with it later? Want to find out how? Old time gunslingers were said to cut notches on the handles of their pistols to represent each conquest. You can keep track of the number of times a sheet of paper slays you, not with notches, but with stickers. Simple dots will do. Every time you handle the paper, slap a dot on it. After a week of dotting, gather up the clutter on your desk and count the dots. Get the picture? The first time you handle print, from a one page memo to a 500 page report, you should decide what to do with it. The should do it. Your choices are:

- Reroute(pass it on to someone else who should have it)
- Respond(then file it)
- Read(then file it)
- Recycle(as in, throw it in the recycle bin)


4. Exercise Good Sportsmanship:

Always start by asking a variation on that particular vital queston.: “Is it important that I have to or need to deal with this issue”? If You do not have to deal with the issue, “Does anybody else have to deal with this”?, If yes go ahead and delegate that to the concern person or else trash it. Do it now. Keep a supply of routing slips. Interoffice mail envelopes and whatever else you need to send the stuff on its way right away. And keep a bucket for recycling within easy arm’s reach. For anything that makes it past this first cut, create a simple system for categorizing every piece of paper you encounter. You don’t need anything fancy here. File folders will do fine. You may need no more than three files, ‘do’, ‘read’ and ‘file’.


5. Make it Disappear:

There’s only one thing better than getting rid of it as soon as you touch it, and that does never have to touch it all. It’s the subscriptions. Do not hesitate or feel shy in asking it to be taken off the mailing list or the routing slips. For a wholesale purge of third class mail, write to the Direct Marketing Association, Mail Reference Service and get off all those lists.



If the paper needs only a brief response, do it right now. Create a speed response:

- A personalized Post-it note
- A note written on the bottom of the original letter or memo.
- A half sheet of business letterhead for a short note
- A phone call if appropriate and more efficient.

Are you being callous by sending the correspondent’s own paper back to him/ her? Not at all. Callous is putting off the response or not responding at all. You are being responsive and smart, and you are also saving paper.


7. File it and forget it?

Do you really need to keep it? Most of us never read or even touch three quarters of the stuff we file. Why take the time to file it now and fumble over it dozens or even hundreds of times in the future? Practice sources-point pollution control.


If you do need to hang onto it, put it in the filing folder. Schedule a short filing session once a day (or week or month, depending upon the volume of paper you are dealing with), for a time when you are not at your mental peak.


8. Strip, Clip and Flip:

Tear out the material you really need and toss the rest of the publications away. Be especially attentive to lists, tabulations, charts, and graphs that summarize a great deal of material in a small space. Then recycle the rest.

While you are at it, toss out periodicals more than a year old, earlier drafts of written material, old reports that no longer have relevance. Schedule a brief session at the end of each week so the clutter level never gets unmanageable. While you are engaged in this relatively mindless work, you can decompress from a hard week of work, ease your transition into evening and weekend leisure time, and reflect on lessons learned.


9. Shift Gears when you read:

Reading everything at the same rate and in the same way makes as much sense as driving at the same speed on all roads and under all conditions. You can skim some materials for main ideas, scan others for specific information, speed read still others for the essence. Save the material that requires time and concentration for your peak energy times and for times when you can convent rate without interruption. Reading difficult material requires your best effort, not the last shreds of consciousness at the end of the day.


10. The cop out compost heap:

If you adhere to the ‘touch it one’ rule at all times, you will save yourself tons of time. You will also qualify for the time management hall of fame. If that rule’s a little too rigid, create another file category, the compost heap. Cant decide what to do with it? Not sure you should do anything at all? Put it in the compost file and forget it.


Once a week, get out the pitch fork and turn that compst. Some of the stuff will have gottn a bit ripe, you will want to deal with that right away. But you will find that a lot of the stuff is now ready to go directly to the recycle bin - do not pass go, and do not waste your time. Paper management will soon become a happy habit, one that will save you enormous amounts of time and remove a lot of the frustration from the workday.

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