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Articles to Help You Be More Productive

Enjoy these articles? There are many more available:
  • Time Management Article Collection
  • Microsoft Outlook and Email Article Collection
  • Managing Paper Article Collection
  • Computer Tips Article Collection
  • Less-Paper Office Article Collection
  • Computer & Email
  • Get the Most from Microsoft Outlook

  • Beware the Empty Inbox

  • Get the Most from Your Handheld

  • Do Digital Organizers Save Time - Or Waste It?

  • Efficient E-mail Habits

  • Transitioning from Paper to Digital Information Storage

  • Faxing Without a Fax Machine

  • Getting Your Files When You're On The Go

  • Business & the Office
  • Time Tactics for the Office

  • Keeping Track of Delegated Tasks

  • Controlling Interruptions

  • Keeping Track of Your Customers & Prospects

  • Do Your Employees Really Need Customer Service Training?

  • Paper Management
  • Action Files Prevent Desk Clutter

  • Reclaim Your Desktop with a Tickler File

  • What To Do With All Those Business Cards?

  • Managing Project Folders - A Surprising Tip that Works

  • Time Management & Organizing
  • The Power of Planning Ahead

  • Words of Wisdom You Should Ignore

  • Coping with Information Overload

  • Thirteen No-Tech Time Management Tips

  • Action Files Prevent Desk Clutter
    © Jan Jasper; 2001-2012

    We tend to leave papers on the desk if we're not finished with them or we're waiting on someone else to get back to us. Understandably, it seems premature to file them away. The problem is, before long you've got a lot of desk clutter, adding to your stress and making it hard to concentrate.

    The solution to desk clutter is action files. These let you unclutter your desk, yet still keep reminders and current papers close at hand. Also known as working files, these files are usually separate from - and in addition to - client, project, or reference files. Action files are for current or pending activities and miscellaneous things you must act on. They are not for long-term storage of papers you're finished with, but didn't get around to filing.

    To be effective, action files must always be within easy reach - ideally in a small desktop file holder that holds the file folders upright so the tabs are clearly visible.

    For added peace of mind, make a note in your calendar to remind you of important dates. This combats the "out of sight, out of mind" worry and lets you clear your desk without fearing you'll forget something important.

    Suggested categories for Action Files:
    Incline file holder1
  • phone calls to return
  • agenda for an upcoming staff meeting
  • expenses to submit
  • websites to look at
  • bills to pay
  • papers to file
  • business development ideas
  • good ideas to try someday
  • papers to photocopy
  • current departmental & administrative matters Incline file holder2
  • pending health insurance claims
  • your upcoming business trip
  • tasks to delegate to your assistant
  • conferences to register for
  • matters to discuss with co-workers
  • errands to run, gifts to buy, sale coupons
  • things to discuss with your child's teacher or doctor
  • pending (for example, letters you sent for which you must receive a reply)

  • It's not necessary to use every category listed above; feel free to add any others that suit you.

    Action Files are organized by concept, so they're different from Tickler Files which are organized by the date you plan to act. Much of what goes in an Action File could be placed in a Tickler File, and vice-versa. Why not experiment and see what suits you? You may decide to use both.

    This article is available for a one-time reprint or one-time internet posting if you include my copyright notice, provide a link to www.janjasper.com and identify me as follows: "Jan Jasper, a productivity expert in the New York City area, is the author of Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information, & Technology (St. Martin's Press)." Read Terms and Conditions for details.
    Learn how the right technology can save you
    tons of time!

    About the Author:
    Productivity coach Jan Jasper has been helping busy people work smarter, not harder since 1988. Her customized approach guides clients to manage time, tasks, and information more effectively. She also provides Microsoft Outlook customization for clients. Jan is the author of Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information, & Technology (St. Martin's Press). She recently completed a North American media tour as the national efficiency spokesperson for IKON Office Solutions, Inc. She has appeared on radio and TV all over North America and is quoted regularly in print. Jan is an adjunct instructor at New York University.

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