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Buried Under a Pile of Paperwork? Here Are 6 Simple Ways to Dig Yourself Out.

We’ve all been there. So busy that it seems you can’t keep up with the stacks of paperwork and emails that keep coming in. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. Not to worry. There are actually several easy things you can do to unbury yourself, get organized and stay on top of your day to day communications so you don’t get bogged down again.

Schedule time to tackle your messages. According to a recent study conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, a person’s IQ drops 10 points when they're fielding constant emails, messages, and calls - the same loss you'd experience if you missed an entire night's sleep and more than twice the 4-point loss you'd have after smoking marijuana. Take back control of your sanity and your productivity by scheduling a set time each day during which you will tackle your mail, email and voicemail.

Separate your paperwork into three piles. Mark one pile “action items”, one “reference items” and the other “recycle”. Keep the things that require you to take action readily available, file away the items you may need for reference at some point and recycle anything you don’t need. (If you’re not sure about what you can and can’t discard, check with your attorney, accountant or financial advisor first.)

Create a good filing system. Figure out what works best for you and put it into action. I’d suggest starting with a list of categories, creating files for each and then placing them in alphabetic order so that they’re easy to access when needed.

Keep important documents separate. A while back we discussed the importance of preparing your business for a natural disaster. One of the best ways to do this is to keep your most critical documents like insurance policies and licenses in a safe place, preferably off-site, such as in a safe deposit box. Copies can be kept on-hand for reference.

Invest in a shredder. Small to medium sized shredders can be purchased at just about any office store and are relatively inexpensive. Use this to get rid of anything that contains confidential or identifying information. Try setting aside a specific time once a week to tackle your shredding so it doesn’t pile up and get out of hand.

Take charge of your junk mail. If you find yourself fielding endless piles of magazines you don’t read, catalogs you don’t need or other unnecessary paperwork, take charge. If it’s email, click “unsubscribe” at the bottom of the message to remove yourself from the distribution list. If it’s physical mail, unsubscribe to any subscriptions you don’t want anymore and get yourself on the National Do Not Mail List.

Putting these six simple things into action will help you dig out (and stay out) of that pile of paperwork, get organized and stay focused and productive.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 12:04 PM