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We’re all trying to go paperless; believe it or not.  However, some coworkers are still burying us with documents.  Some clients and colleagues still need signed originals.  How do we handle the paperwork?

Let’s take a look at some causes for paperwork pressure:  Indecision.  Lack of a system.  Perfectionism.

Here are some possible solutions for handling paperwork.

Develop a system for simplifying paperwork.  Reduce copies.  Standardize forms.  Reduce report lengths.

Deal with mail standing up.  Don’t sit down.  Read it once and handle it.  It is your ability to make decisions that gives you the ability to control your life.  Be decisive.  Screen and scan for essentials.  Ask yourself, “What is this?”  “Does this require action?”  If it will take just a couple of minutes, do it right away.

If it will take more time than available at the moment, paper clip a sticking note that describes the next step to take, so you don’t have to review or re-read the document, again later, to finish it.

If you can, delegate the document to someone else.  Remember, paper follows responsibility that has been delegated.

Split up the paperwork:  to do, to pay, to file, or to read.  Use color for quick reference to find different subjects and interests.  Develop a filing system that is quick and easy.  Make filing a habit:  first thing in the morning, right after lunch, or at the end of the day.  Name files with the words you would use in conversation, so you don’t have to stop and think, “What would I have called that?”

Just get started.  Take action and start sorting.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect system right away.  Fine-tune your system as you go along.  It will be great to see the top of your desk again.

It is true, if you have piles, you probably don’t have files.  Sit back and consider the paperwork.  Recognize the amount and frequency from each source and create a system that works for you.  Take on a stack at a time and be decisive.

Kit Welchlin, M.A., CSP, is a nationally recognized professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at