Sunday, October 14, 2012

7 Tips to Eliminate Paper and Electronic Clutter

1) Don't bring it in the house or office in the first place.

I do a quick elimination at the mail box. If it's junk mail, advertisements, etc I note the ones I am interested in and toss the rest. The ones I am interested in, I look at on-line.

2) Once in the office, sort into three boxes/containers: TODAY, This week, later.

Once sorted in my time-sensitive boxes, I can prioritize my time appropriately.

3) Release the need for paper.

Acknowledge that everything is currently available remotely through the internet. There's always ways to replace or get another copy.

  • There same ads are normally on the store's website.

  • The magazine/newspaper/newsletter often have on-line version.

  • You can easily get replacement receipts and bank statements.

 Revisit your real need for the paper trail. If it is an imaginary dependency, then toss it and discontinue the paper subscription. Continuely ask yourself “What's the worst that can happen if I threw this away? Isn’t there a way to retrieve this if and when I really needed it?”

4) Take on an On-Demand and Abundance mentality.

Instead of cursing the abundance of email and post mail, appreciate and use that knowledge. Realize that even better information will continually come to you.  Therefore, you never need to save something “just in case you need it in the future”.  There will always be an abundance of information exactly when you need it.  If you haven't read or used it within a month, it is now obsolete.  Toss it. Release the old to make room for the better.

5) Create email Message-Rules

Setting up Message-Rules allows you to presort your email, even before you see it. Investigate your mailer for the feature "Create Message Rules".  Create different email folders and message rules for different subscriptions, subject lines, sender or from names, and topic headers.

6) Time-sensitize your in-box with "TODAY", "This week", "Later" action intentions.

Flag the items you need to “take action today” using your email message flag feature. Items that you can deal with later move to your email LATER folder. The only thing in your inbox should be things you need to deal with today or this week. Everything else is placed in its proper folder.  If stays in your LATER box over a month, delete it.

7) Block time to review your email.

Don't interrupt your day every time an email, a phone call, or an instant message comes in. Allow your mail-rules, voice mail, and do-not-disturb features to do their job. Create automatic responders to initially respond to incoming email (i.e. announcing that you have received their email, that you need some time to review, and that you will have a quality response within 2 business days.  If it is an emergency, ask them to call you.)

Scheduling a block of time to handle the accumulated requested (instead of being interrupt driven) is a more effective use of time.


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