Two days ago, I spoke with a friend who leads the Marketing department at a huge multinational company. We exchanged life and work stories; and the conversation eventually led to my sharing about the Personal Efficiency Program. Before I went on to talk about the program further she blurted out, “I don’t think we need it (PEP). We are almost paperless with the tools (that) we have at the office!” I just responded, “That’s a great effort! Going green and clearing out the clutter from what could be massive quantities of paperwork.”
Today, many companies are developing from a paper-based system to electronic documents; although, we cannot deny the fact that there is still a majority of businesses that deal with a gigantic amount of paper. One reason is that many people still find it easy to achieve meaning and sense out of something that they can touch – which is paper. The other reason is that many businesses may not have the budget to equip themselves with the tools and technology.
PEP consultants encourage that businesses and its workers take that the first crucial step in the organizing process – which is addressing the paper issues. By doing that, the course towards efficiency becomes easier and quicker.

So, how do we deal with paperwork? Here are the basic guidelines.

Organize your papers and files by frequency of use
  • The items that we use often may need to be within our reach
Set up a three-basket system for managing paper flow
  • Working files are for projects in progress and items you deal with habitually. These files are the files that should be kept within arm’s reach.
  • Reference files comprise the lion’s share of the files at work. These files may not necessarily be near.
  • Archive files are kept mainly for reference or statutory reasons. These files are stored outside the office.
Set up personal working file system
  • List down your major responsibilities and the information required to accomplish each specific area
  • Choose your working files drawer for files that need to be close at hand
  • Remove all nonworking files; transfer them to either reference files or archive files
  • Ensure that you have a file folder for each project for each project and activity
  • Set up a tickler file. Tickler file are used for longer-term pending and follow-through (as a reminder)
  • Remove files that are no longer active. Transfer them to either reference files or archive files
To go about filing and labelling, rule of thumb is to set up file systems that will be easy both for you and a colleague (or assistant) to find. Other recommendations for filing include:
  • Use hanging files. Hanging files support folders better and facilitate refilling in the correct place.
  • Label with the folders large, clear letters for easy retrieval and refiling
  • Align category labels and subcategory labels which allows the eyes to scan to the correct file more quickly
  • Create an index for large reference files for manager’s use
For businesses that rely heavily on digital storage, here is a recommended process for organizing the computer and its electronic files:
  • Set up a file system for the document files in the computer, as well as for the retained email messages
  • Ensure that that the stored digital files mirror how their counterpart paper files are stored. Same naming convention must exist between the digital file and corresponding paper file.
  • Move the documents you wish to keep into their respective electronic folders
  • Set up a computer desktop which allows you to access files and applications with great ease and efficiency
Reference:
The Personal Efficiency Program: How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed and Win Back Control of Your Work (Kerry Gleeson, 2009)
Angeline V Teo is an internationally-renowned inspirational speaker, award-winning life and executive coach, and the President of PEPworldwide (Asia) PL. Angeline’s books: Extreme Excellence, Stepping Stones to Success and Discover Your Inner Strength were published in the US and co-authored with eminent leadership gurus such as Stephen Covey and Jack Canfield. Angeline is brimming with excitement to launch this month her fourth book “Where do I begin?” – an autobiography and a personal favourite. Angeline is conferred the Best Personal Brand Award 2017 from Marketing Institute of Singapore (Executive Coach category).