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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Paperless Society? Ha!


If you're a writer, there's no such thing as the paperless society. At least, there isn't for me. When I started out in journalism, my desk was always covered with the stories I was working on (this was before computers). As a sub-editor, I also had to deal with other people's stories that I was subbing as well as my own work. When I became an editor, even more stuff was added to the pile: draft page layouts, advertising copy, book proposals and so on. Once I began working from home, I had all my personal stuff to organise as well. And even though I've always known where everything is, at times the mountain of paper has threatened to overwhelm me.

Six Trays

Luckily for me, a piece of advice came along just when I needed it. This came to me third hand, but was originally from a management guru, who suggested that you organise your stuff by filing it into six trays. The trays are labelled as follows:

  • Do now
  • Do soon
  • File
  • Read
  • Awaiting information
  • Pass on

The labels are self-explanatory, but the key to the system is to file your mail as soon as it comes in. Decide which tray it fits into and deal with it appropriately (not forgetting the round file as a seventh option). Then go back to the 'do now' tray and deal with what's in it. Stuff in the 'do soon' tray should be sorted out within the week. Do the reading when you have time and get rid of anything that needs to passed on. Finally, when the information that you're waiting for has come in, you should then be able to put it in one of the other trays.

This has made an enormous difference to me. My stuff is better organised and I have an order in which to deal with things. The paper mountain hasn't disappeared, but it's shrunk to the size of a hill!

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