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Manage Your Work Area and Paperwork 

09 May, 2021 | Time Management | Return|

Manage Your Work Area and Paperwork 

A clean desk is not a sign of an empty mind!!!  Don’t fall prey to the false notion that a messy work area means you’re busy because you look busy.  The reasoning is that if you look busy, you’re productive.  Don’t confuse activity with productivity. 

Managing the Four Ds 

1. Do   Most people occasionally battle the habit of procrastination - putting off something you really want or need to do, and despite how good you are at setting goals, procrastination can sabotage your personal and professional life. Here are five steps to take the STING out of feeling overwhelmed. 

S - Select one thing to do. 

T -  Time yourself. Check the clock, give yourself an hour and go for it. 

I -  Ignore everything else while the clock is ticking. 

N -  No breaks until your hour is up. 

G - Give yourself a reward when the hour is up. 


2. Dump   This will take some practice and a hard-nosed approach if you tend to hang on to stuff. If throwing it out is too difficult, give it away, or ask someone else to throw it out for you. 

De-cluttering your Workspace: Start with a garbage bag. 

If you are like most people today, managing the paper in your personal and business life is a real pain. It is difficult to know how to file the paper so you can easily find it later and there is so much of it! The paperless office never quite made it to reality! If you are in a business environment where files must be shared, the problem is even worse. 

What type of filing system do you use? Don’t save papers you can easily find somewhere else. One of our biggest time-wasters is searching for papers we know we have but we can’t find. 


Sort and Group: Birds of a feather should flock together. 

Divide your files into three categories: 

  • Files you are working on 

  • Files you refer to frequently 

  • Files you no longer use 

Note: Electronic files should mirror your hard-copy filing system. 


Organize Files for Retrieval

Working Files – 80% of your work involves 20% of your files. 

  • Current projects 

  • Fingertip information you need on a daily basis 

  • Follow up files for people you come into contact with on a daily basis 

  • Routine functions 


Reference Files 

  • Bulk of files will be here 

  • Kept handy but not within arm’s length 

  • Research for future projects 

  • Past projects still referred to 

  • Sponsor files 

  • Administrative information 

  • Establish categories, makes labels for files and drawers 


Archive Files 

  • Those you must keep by law, or may need in future 


Electronic Files 

  • Use same filing structure for email and documents as in paper files 


Briefcase/Laptop Bag 

  • Frequently needed tools 

  • Reference files (telephone/address) 

  • Working files as needed 


Organize your messages and addresses 

  • Use the address book features built into your email program, rather than manually typing addresses. 

  • It is more convenient and accurate. 

  • Organize your messages into folders or delete them as soon as you’re done reading them or acted on them. 

  • Ensure your inbox contains messages you haven’t read or that require further action. 



3. Delay  Occasionally we have legitimate delays.  We are waiting for somebody else to get us information or complete a task. However, if you have deadlines, pass on deadlines to others as well.  Don’t let someone else’s lack of planning short-circuit your deadlines. 


Check your mail twice a day 

  • Checking your email frequently is one of the big time-wasters of the modern office. Avoid it if you can. 

  • Set aside two periods when you know it will be quiet. For example in the morning at 8:30 a.m. and later in the day at 2:30 p.m.-and check your mail then. 

  • If you cannot check your email consider making arrangements to have it checked twice every business day in normal circumstances. 


Use separate accounts for personal and business mail 

  • Keep the personal mail out of the office, and the business mail out of your home. 


Filter the spam 

  • With all of the junk email circulating today, it’s vital to use an email program that can filter it by dumping it in the trash before it gets to you. 

  • Filters can also filter your business mail as well. For example you can filter mailing list updates from other companies, news, and promotions, filter them into separate folders and read them when you’re ready. 


Keep it simple 

  • A short email message is a good email message. 

  • Use a specific or descriptive subject heading.

  • Keep messages, especially replies, short. 

  • If a simple “yes” or “no” will do, that’s all you need to say. 


4. Delegate   Don’t waste your time doing things that somebody else can do, especially if they can do them better than you. Save your time for those things which you are uniquely qualified to do. 


Delegating for Greater Productivity 

In The Creative Edge, author William C. Miller defines five levels of delegation: 

  • Tell:  “Based on my decision, here’s what I want you to do.” 

  • Sell:  “Based on my decision, here’s what I want you to do, because…” 

  • Consult: “Before I make a decision, I want your input.” 

  • Participate: “We need to make a decision together.” 

  • Delegate: “You make a decision” 

Find ways to delegate, no matter what your position is. 

The Story about Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody 


There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.  Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got mad about it because it was Everybody’s job. Everyone thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when actually Nobody blamed Anybody 

Learn to clearly define who is to do what.  Let go. DELEGATE. 


 Steps in Effective Delegation  


1. Explain why the job is important. 


2. Describe what is needed in terms of results (not how, but what). 


3. Give the person the authority they need to do the job. 


4. Indicate when the job needs to be completed and get agreement. 


5. Ask for feedback to ensure a mutual understanding. 


6. Establish follow-up process for monitoring progress. 



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