Here is my second installment of Field Notes where I highlight organizing items of interest such as: business organization, client success stories, organizing products, programs, etc. In today’s Field Notes, I’m going to highlight a client success story where we created an action file to handle incoming mail and paperwork.
My client recently moved into a home and was still in the process of setting up her home office. A big obstacle to getting her office squared away was that she was having difficulty maintaining the daily influx of mail and papers. The papers were getting piled one on top of the other and getting lost in the shuffle. Naturally, I recommended she set up an action file for two reasons:
1) Dealing with incoming papers and mail is a daily chore (for all of us). She was constantly reminded of her frustration with the papers every time she checked the mail and added another piece of paper to the pile. If she didn’t establish a system of organizing these papers, the stacks of papers and clutter would continue to grow causing her more anxiety and frustration.
2) Creating and action file is one of the easiest and quickest organizing projects to do. By creating an action file, my client would see and experience immediate results which in turn would probably get her motivated to tackle the rest of her papers in the home office.
So, with just a little support and instruction, my client set up her own action file. Here is her testimonial along with before and after photos:
Here are some photos of the action file in action. Since following your advice, my husband has been great about filing receipts in the appropriate file versus the mesh file. Plus, the whole concept has cleared up the paperwork considerably. I repurposed the mesh file to organize gift cards, membership cards, coupons and such…all things that we access daily including the action file. As for the label maker in the action file, I use it constantly now that it is organized neatly and in plain view.”
- As stated above, creating an action file is one of the easiest ways to manage and control your incoming papers. You’ll see almost immediate results once you start using your action file. If paper piles are one of your organizational challenges or frustrations, try this project first so that you can at least handle all of your new incoming papers. You can tackle the other files later ;o)
- Action files should be placed where you naturally drop off and check your mail, receipts and other daily papers. Analyze where you and everyone else in the family seems to drop of their papers and make a decision on the most logical spot to set up shop for your action file.
- Consider using a vertical file system (files standing on end) as opposed to a horizontal file system (files stacked one on top of the other). Look at the pictures above. The “before” picture shows papers lying horizontally one on top of the other which makes it very difficult to find anything. The “after” photos show vertical file folders that are staggered making it extremely easy to find what you need.
- You can label and adapt your files to your needs. As a start, you may want to label your files: TO DO, TO PAY, TO READ, TO FILE. You may want to modify it with other labels to fit your needs. For example: COUPONS, RECEIPTS, KIDS’ SCHEDULES, etc.
- The key to an effective action file is to make sure you take action on it. In other words…check it and use it daily and NEVER let it get too full! It should be cleared out at a minimum of once a month. Either transfer your files to your permanent files or trash them if you no longer need them.
For more information on how to set up your own action file, check out my blog on how to create a desktop action file and my Desktop File Organizer Quick Tip. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions or need a little more guidance on how to set up an action file. I’d love to hear from you and help you out with your organizing endeavors.