So much for becoming a paperless society. The stream of letters, magazines, envelopes, brochures, memos, and more still flows in on a daily basis — regardless of the fact that we are also flooded with emails and other electronic correspondence. The paper just continues to pile up. What can you do to keep it under control and make sure you’re not missing anything important?
The filing experts at Esselte, an office product supplier, suggest this straightforward, simple technique for keeping the paper pile–up in order. Get four stackable in/out trays or wire bins or even baskets – whatever suits your style – and label them, "to do," "to route," "to read," and "to file." Then, as soon as the mail, and any other correspondence, arrives on your desk, sort it into one of these categories.
This tray should contain all material that requires a response or another kind of action. Understand that whatever lands here needs to be acted upon within a day or two.
These items should include those things that need to be passed along to someone else in your department or elsewhere in the company. Most of this correspondence will not be of a "rush status," but be sure to review it on a regular basis just to make sure nothing has been overlooked.
This tray should simply contain non–priority letters or other correspondence that you are interested in and want to look over eventually, but don't need to get to right away.
Be careful with this one. It could easily become a catch–all for much of the mail that arrives at your desk. Don't let it become a dumping ground that creates a problem in itself. Be discriminating, and make sure you transfer the information to your files on a timely basis.