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Time Management: 5 Tips to Control the Paper Flow in Your Home Office

September 22, 2009 By: Yvonne A Jones Category: Business - Entrepreneur, Business - Home-Based Business

If you are old enough you will recall that in the ’70’s the dream was that in 15-20 years we will become a paperless society because with the proliferation of computers, everything would be stored there and we would not need to have huge filing cabinets.  We can easily laugh at those statements now, can’t we, because it seems that more than ever before we are inundated with paper.  How about you in your home-based business?  Do you find that you spend a lot of time moving different stacks of paper from one place to another in your home office?  Do you often walk in to your office and wish you could just wave a magic wand and make all the papers disappear?  If you do, you are not alone.  But, what can you do so that the flood of papers do not consume your time?

Here are 5 tips to control the flow of paper and manage your time:

1.   E-Mails:  Just about everyone receive lots of e-mails on a daily basis.  Do you really need to print out every e-mail?  You may need to from time to time, but before you print a copy, is a reply required?  You could reply promptly and then print one copy that has both the incoming message and your response.  You may have specific times during the day that you reply to e-mails.  Rather than printing them out, could you ‘flag’ the messages so that you’ll know which ones need to be replied to. Print only after you have responded. In this way you have less paperwork on a given topic.

2.   Regular Mail:  It may be possible to reply with a note written on the bottom of the original letter, or just a phone call may be an appropriate response.  You would make sure to note on the correspondence the time and date you responded and the person to whom you spoke.

3.    Do You Need to File It?:  Many of us, including myself, receive mail and file it away to look at in more detail ‘later.’  Six months later we still have not found the time to look at the “Special Offer” which has expired.  If the offer has expired throw it out!  Why not include in your schedule every two weeks to spend a half-hour outside of normal client hours to go through these correspondence and purge.  Make to decision to file or throw out.

4.    Reading Online Correspondence:  Most of us are on several people’s mailing lists and receive newsletters, ezines, and e-mails daily.  Some information is very pertinent and valuable to our business.  However, how you read is important.  You probably have perfected the art of speed-reading, but do you need to read everything  in every e-mail?  You may need to do that for some, while others you just skim over looking at headings, and others you scan for specific information.  For indepth material I like to print out and read along with a pen or pencil and highlighter.  Keep those for quiet moments when you can focus and concentrate.

5.   Be organized:  Have a system in place for putting away papers so that you touch each the minimum  required number of times.  Moving stacks of paper from one place to the other is self-defeating and time-consuming.  File, don’t pile!  Keep only what is necessary on your desk and outside of cabinets. File away all others.

By implementing these tips, you may find that you are more productive.  Entering a neat work area gives a positive feeling of well-being and encourages creativity and action.  For additional strategies click here.