Are you overwhelmed by stacks of paperwork? Does the mound of business magazines in your office cause you more stress than relief? And are your files overflowing with documents? Many professionals expected paperwork to diminish as technology advanced, but old habits die hard, and many of us are still overrun by hardcopies. But there is hope! Score, a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses nationwide, provides 5 easy tips in helping cut the paper chase in order to streamline paperwork.
1. Discard old magazines, books and articles. The publishing industry is invested in distributing current, and often, cutting-edge information. Chances are that stack of books and magazines gathering dust in the office corner is dated anyway. If you’re concerned about losing priceless information, thumb through them to see if there’s anything you would like to clip and save. Otherwise, recycle guilt-free.
2. Maintain a list of sources (actual and potential) by topic. There are probably resources you revisit, depending on need, regularly. Whether it be tax information, QuickBooks hints, accounting tips, or marketing suggestions, you should list all these resources (in some type of manageable order) so that you don’t have to hunt that reference down later. This can also prove helpful when working with your staff; employees will probably discover that these same resources come in handy for them as well.
3. Minimize duplicates of documents. SCORE recommends that you “Keep the original in a plastic sleeve to prevent damage and one copy on hand for easy circulation.” Often it’s the duplicate copies that cause all the clutter and stress. What is the shredder and recycle bin for if not to illuminate the proliferation of unnecessary paperwork?
4. Keep files current. Unless necessary for your records, only keep the final version of letters, proposals, reports, etc. Often what’s bustin’ the seams of your file folders are revised versions of the same documents. Not only does this create clutter, but it can make it difficult to determine which version is the most current.
5. Get organized. This tip is targeted to your supply closet. Does it contain items that are bulky and hog space? SCORE suggests keeping a list of necessary supplies on a cabinet door. You also might want to toss anything you haven’t used in the last six months.
While these tips sound simple, each may require considerable time and energy. Also keep in mind that each tip may have an electronic component. Do you need to delete some of the bookmarks from your browser to eliminate confusion? Does your virtual desktop need a good cleaning? And do your file folders contain multiple electronic versions of the same documents? Be sure to streamline your electronic records as well. But don’t feel obligated to tackle all these tips today. In fact, it might be more effective if you spent one week on each task, ensuring that you are thorough and complete.
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–. “5 Tips on How to Stop the Work Pile-up.” www.Score.com