Practical Filing Systems For The Chronically Disorganized
Office organization or decluttering usually centers around our filing systems. Corporate clutter isn't any different than home clutter. It just seems more important. Only about 10% to 20% of the papers you file are referred to again. Yet, we spend an inordinate amount of time looking for papers we've filed or obsessing about filing them.
No matter how we try to apply traditional office organization techniques, they usually don't work for long. For those of us who are chronically disorganized, we need filing systems that work for us. Since many of the chronically disorganized are visually oriented, we fear filing. Finding your learning modality is the key to effective filing.
This excerpt is from Mike Nelson's book, Clutter-Proof Your Business, which oddly enough, has a chapter on Feng Shui and was translated into Japanese and Korean.
Chapter 9 – Paper Clutter And Filing Systems
"Often organizational issues are not organizational at all. People are not motivated, not attached to the outcome. Kinesthetic or visual people are using the wrong system. Trying to improve methods not in line with their values wont work. You waste all your energy trying to be disciplined enough to make other systems work for you and then you have no energy to spend on what really matters." Lynn Cutts Personal Coach, www.manageyourmuse.com.
Visualization is the key.
We often don’t file correctly because we look at filing as "clerical" work. That sounds demeaning. It is not creative. Make filing a creative process and get rid of the negativity.
A quick visualization will imprint a file’s location in your memory quicker and better than anything else. You don’t have to get cross-legged and chant to visualize. Visualization is merely creating a mental image of what you want to remember. You then associate the image with pegs that jog your particular type of memory: sounds, colors, emotions, funny images, whatever helps you to remember. You are creating what psychologists call "attachment." Attachment means that we make things personal.
Another reason for visualization is that it makes work more fun. The project may be boring, you may resent it, but at least you can get a giggle from it when you have to work on it. Making dreary work fun will help in organization.
We are more likely to sabotage ourselves and misfile things when we aren’t happy. While we can’t all have dream jobs and still feed our families, we can make what we do less of a chore. It will pay off in the long run in being organized.
First, let’s double-check the test you took on learning styles. Think of any strongly positive event that has been deeply imbedded in your consciousness. Examples are: the time you praised by your boss for doing something spectacular; the day your spouse proposed or the time you won a high school football game. Take some time to relieve this without distractions.
Strive For Dominance
When you have the scene firmly in your mind, what sense seems to be dominant? Your emotions? Colors of the surroundings? Roaring of the crowd? Your boss’s or spouse’s voice? The feeling of being physically touched by your spouse, boss, your teammates? That dominant emotion is the key to helping you remember. If the dominant feeling conflicts with your answers on the questionnaire, go with your feelings now. Sometimes we are too logical when taking a test. Our feelings don’t lie. You are probably a combination of two learning types and one might fit better with using a filing system. Try both for awhile and see which one works. You’ll know pretty quickly. Don’t forget the power of humor! Whatever you can do to make a project humorous will make it stick with you. You could visualize the telephone project as a skit about someone getting lost in voice mail hell, or a Lucille Ball-type episode of a harried old-fashioned telephone operator.
Don’t Just File It And Forget It
Reviewing what you did after you’ve done it has proven to dramatically improve retention. Remember those nerds in school who always had the right answers? If you had asked them what they did that was different than you, they would have said they took good notes and reviewed them before the day was over. The short amount of time you’ll spend reviewing where you just filed things will pay big rewards in finding them later.
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