Take a look at this document, which might help. http://www.heartworkorg.com/Documents/how_not_to_drown_in_paper_as_a_new_business_owner.doc Although written for small business owners, even if you are taking care of your household business, I consider that a business. Hopefully there’s at least one new insight in there for you.
E-filing for those who hate e-filing March 5, 2010
Wow, great responses on how to handle “filing” emails. Yes, the old “move it and it’s gone forever” problem is a challenge. Just like paper files, though, there is a difference between
A. put it somewhere (file or elsewhere) that requires further action by you and
B. Need to save it for reference, but requires no action. Just need to be able to find it later if the need arises.
C. Need to save it for a long time or forever, even though I almost never use or look at it.
I have a model for thinking of your information in these 3 layers that might help. (When I say “files”, that is really just a shorthand for information storage. )
Another tool that might help is Google Desktop. If you aren’t using this or something like it, you might try installing it. It’s free! http://desktop.google.com/en/?ignua=1 This tool can search even inside MS outlook emails, Word and other files on your desktop, so if you need to look something up, you can locate it regardless of where it is stored on your PC or in your folders.
This doesn’t mean you don’t need to try to file documents, because it still makes maintaining a healthy PC much easier. And it doesn’t mean that you’ll never lose another document, because you need to know how to search for what you need. But doing both of the things above certainly makes staying organized electronically much less of a challenge and a mystery.
The last step is making sure that those things that DO require action are in a place where you stay on top of them. Many people just pile them up in their inbox, but that doesn’t help with location or priority. There are lots of tools to help you with this, but the simplest is to create an email “To Do” folder where you move things and then clear them out on some routine schedule, like daily or at least weekly.