Catch All Notebook
Keep a spiral bound notebook on hand at all times to jot down notes to yourself or to-do list items, record information from voicemail, phone calls or computer… anything that you want to remember or refer to again. Date every entry. Keep your calendar nearby as well.
Managing Mail and Paper
Pre-sort mail in two piles: envelopes and ‘other’ paper. Toss 3rd class ‘junk’ that isn’t important to you first. Open the mail, then discard the envelopes while stapling or clipping pages together.
Read With a Pencil
The first time you read anything that you’ll want to refer to again (e.g., mail or magazine), circle the key information: contact’s name, phone number, address, account number, amount due, deadlines. The next time you look at it only the important information will jump out at you and you won’t have to read the whole page to find it again. Using a pencil will allow you to erase if necessary. Transfer important dates to your calendar right away.
Top Right Corner
As you read through documents or papers, write in the upper righthand corner either the action you need to take (call, write, consider, pay etc) or what basic category it should be filed under.
To keep your important papers together, start with the simplest of categories like Financial, Legal, Medical, Personal. If you don’t have a filing cabinet use bins or trays to keep the categories separate. You can have sub-categories such as Financial – Checking Account or Financial – Investments to be more specific. Try not to make it too complicated especially if you don’t have a lot of paper to manage.
Keep it simple! Make a list with 3 columns: Call Go Do. Focus on one type of activity at a time to stay in the same mode of action: make a series of calls, schedule errands in your calendar, do tasks that are similar which won’t force you to completely switch gears to something unrelated.
See (‘C’) these miscellaneous items (minutia) on your desktop or where you open your mail:
Contacts: (Address/Phone/Directions) including business cards if you don’t have a Rolodex
Calendar/Events: invitations/RSVP’s, work/school/sports calendars
Computer: instructions, tips, list of favorite websites, info to record on your computer
Consider This: things you need to think about before you make a decision
Correspondence: letters/notes that require a response or that you want to refer to again
Coupons/Offers: circle expiration dates. Transfer to your car or wallet to use when you go out.
You can also have other important papers on your desktop: Bills To Pay, Receipts for Taxes etc.
The best way to keep this system working is to take a look in each file folder at least once a week to see what you have to deal with. These kinds of things don’t need to be put away in a file drawer (where you may forget you have them) but you do need to check them periodically.
But remember that the absolute best way to keep track of a specific task is to schedule time to do them. When it’s on your calendar, it’ll get your attention!