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Paper Management – How to Sort and Organize Office Papers

Posted Jul 08 2012 2:00am

Paper management . . . in our “paperless society!” . . . overwhelms most people. I love helping my clients get their paper organized to make it easy to find what they need when they need it – the very definition of being organized.


In this example, my client is very visual, like myself, so I really understand how he has verticle and horizontal piles all over his office because he has to “see” them all the time to remember them. He has several file cabinets, but as soon as something goes into a drawer it’s gone forever, because he can’t see it and therefore can’t remember it. Is this an issue for you too?


1. Have your Prep Tools ready. A trash can for real trash, recycle bin, shred box and reroute container – for things that need to stay in the office as a whole, but maybe not in your area. (When you’re done with your organizing project, take the reroute box out and redistribute those items to where they belong.)

With your sorting containers nearby you can stay in one place and easily toss into each as needed.

 2. Clear a working or staging area to move items around on.

3. To start sorting – sometimes years and decades of files and piles – start with one “chunk” and “chip” away at it. Don’t move onto another file or pile until you’re done with the one you have in front of you.

Remember, clutter is only two things:

One decision and one action not taken.

4. As you pull out only one file, or chunk, at a time decide what to do with it, and follow through.

     a) Does it stay? Why and where? Put it there.

     b) Is it someone elses? Reroute.

     c) Old, out-dated? Recycle.

     d) Private or important but old? Shred.

5. Check your labeling. You may need to relabel a file or folder to make more sense.

6. I always say to think about your filing and flow of your office as if a stranger needed come in and use it effectively. Are files marked well? Is everything labeled? Does it make sense where you have your categories and paper information placement?

When you have a big, old, clogged paper-pipe in your office, schedule one to three hours at a time, shut off phones, no distractions, and dig in! Working in an culled out, organized and streamlined office makes a huge difference in ones energy and efficiency.


It’s normal to “trance” while you’re dealing with paper. Trancing is standing, looking at the same piece of paper for minutes and not really seeing it at all! It’s normal. That’s why it’s helpful to have someone stand by you and hand you the “chunks” to help keep you focused and moving. Plus, sometimes we need to think outloud while dealing with paper too, your helper doesn’t have to say anything, but when there’s someone right there listening (instead of being alone) it can make all the difference in your decision making and speed of your organizing project.

If you need my help, just let me know! See my Organizing Fees page - I travel anywhere! .


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