Managing the Paper Flow

Inundated with paper?

The #1 Tip Steadfast has to offer is “Save time by handling each piece of paper only once.”

This doesn’t mean that you have to do whatever is required at that moment.  It means that you file the paper where you will next need to retrieve it.  This way when you are ready to take the next step on that particular project, everything will be together.

Whether you use a paper or electronic day planner, taking the time to make a notation concerning the project as it progresses can also be helpful.  Having a “bring forward” system also helps to ensure no piece of paper goes astray.

Sometimes deciding what to keep and what to throw can be a challenge.  Here are some tips to help make the process easier for you.

Keep those papers that you are required by law to keep, for example:  Canada Revenue Agency or the US IRS department documents and also keep any legal or insurance-related documents.  Also, keep anything specific to a project, especially if it is an original document that you created.  Give consideration if it is something you are going to use repeatedly and/or something that would be hard to get another copy – in that case you definitely want to keep it!  As long as the information is current and relevant to your work and it adds something new to your project.  Keep it!

Knowing  how to throw out documents is almost as important as knowing what to keep & how to keep it.  There are a few things to consider when tossing out paper.  The recycle bin is great IF the paperwork does not contain any confidential information.  Otherwise, shredding is the preferred method to protect yourself and/or your clients personal information from identity theft.  Of course, if you are fortunate to be working from home and you happen to enjoy the heat from a wood stove  – consider that as a cheap alternative option for destroying documents!

With all the talk of “going paperless”, if you are considering scanning documents to save on the space required for the storage of paper documents, remember to upgrade your backup system at the same time.  Not only is it very important to ensure backups are completed on a regular basis, but the restoral process also needs to be tested.  A backup system is wonderful – when it works.  Remember, he who laughs last has a backup!!

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