Organizing for Efficiency - Where Do I Put Everything?

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Is your in-box overflowing?Is paper crowding your space? In today's society of abundance, one thing is certain: we do not lack stuff.
Economists have concluded that we have used our soaring productivity over the last 50 years to purchase more items, rather than to gain more free time.
The modern day average worker produces the same economic output in 11 hours as that produced by 40 hours of work in the 1950s.
Yet the average time a family unit works is soaring.
Houses are bigger, families have more cars, closets are full of clothes, and waistlines are growing.
Two thirds of America's adults are overweight.
Storage and physical organizing businesses are multi-billion dollar industries.
They survive because of our abundance.
Here is the challenge: If all of that stuff gets in the way of productivity, what do we do with it? Step 1:Don't Take It On -- Get Rid Of It
  • Stop buying stuff -- limit purchases to what you need.
    Like a dieter limiting calories, go on a stuff-limiting diet.
    Fight the impulse purchase.
    Ask yourself, "Do I really need this item?"
  • Throw it away.
    The most used key on my keyboard is the delete button.
    Always challenge the need to save digital content; your first thought should always be, "Can I delete it?"If you have not used a physical item in the last year or two, chances are that you do not need it...
    so get rid of it.
Step 2:File It
  • Paper files:Use a simple alphabetical filing system -- A-Z.
    Cell phone manual goes under cell phone.
    Warranty paperwork goes under warranties.
    Don't make it complicated; keep it simple.
    File the item and label it under the name that naturally comes to mind.
    Tip: keep home and work papers filed separately.
  • Home Projects: Like hobbies, tools, and paint supplies, keep all of the associated items together.
    For example, if you like to play golf, keep all of your clubs, shoes, and golf balls in the same place.
    Filing all of your associated items together around these home projects will help reduce clutter and make the content available when you want to engage.
  • Work Projects:Use the same principle as in home projects, i.
    keep the materials together.
    If you have physical items, keep them all together in one binder, expandable folder etc.
    Organize the folders by natural topics that are relevant to the project.
    The key is keeping them all together.
  • Email Filing:Put the contents into one folder.
    Yes, one folder.
    Anything you want to keep that is in email format place into one folder.
    When you want to recall an email, use the search function built into outlook, or use the powerful search tools offered as add-ins to outlook.
    This method uses the power of digital content to help you find what you are looking for and saves you time.
    Given the power of digital content and search engines, you no longer need to apply the effort of keeping documents in separate folders.
    The separate folder concept was built to help find paper items and it is truly no longer needed for digital content.
If you apply these simple concepts and use a minimalist approach to collecting stuff, you will find that you spend less time looking for things and more time doing the things you most desire.
Give yourself a winter project: "Get rid of all of the unnecessary stuff in my life -- to be completed by the first day of spring.
"Then, each week, spend an hour or two identifying stuff that can be deleted or thrown away.
Six months from now you will be well on your way to a clutter free environment.
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