There is no better time than this week to set up your paper systems for 2014. Here is what I do:
I start with an empty Bankers Box
I pull out all my household financials (bills paid, bank statements, etc.) for 2013 and put them on one side of the box
I pull all my (personal) receipts from 2013 and put them in a gallon zip lock bag marking it with Personal Receipts 2013 with a black sharpie and toss those in the box
I take out my 2013 business records and put them on the other side of the box.
I take all the papers out of my 2013 taxes bin and put them in a 10 x 13 envelope, marking it “For 2013 tax prep” – I lay this envelope on top of the other stuff in the box
I put the lid on the box marking it “2013 Financial Records – shred in 2020” (7 years plus one for good measure)
The box then goes under my desk until my 2013 taxes are filed.
After my taxes are filed, the box goes to the basement for storage, pulling the “Shred in 2014” box.
This simple perpetual process keeps everything in order with minimal effort. If I drop the ball and don’t pull 2013 out now then I end up mixing 2013 with 2014 and I’ve just made myself a lot more work. If I take the time to do this now, my systems are in place and I’ve set myself up for a smooth 2014.
As we go through our busy days we are pulled in many directions. Deciding what actually priorities are, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Is it working on the project plan for your team/boss/self? Is it attending another meeting? Is it making time to exercise or getting to your child’s concert on time? Is it choosing to answer the phone or the emails? It is truly hard to decide.
Interestingly enough, the word DECIDE comes from the Latin word decidere, which literally means to cut off (from de- + caedere to cut). When you decide to do one thing you are CUTTING OFF the opportunity to do something else. No wonder this is difficult!
To help you DECIDE what your priorities are, I recommend creating a filter list. Run your options through the filter and see which items are big enough to not fall through. Here is the criteria I use for my “Must Do Today” filter:
A friend mentioned that her (big) company recently has added Instant Messaging to their IT system. She says, “now, while I’m on the phone, or in a meeting, in addition to having to check emails, I have these IM’s popping up at me.” WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???!!!!???!!!!
A study by Microsoft found that it takes an employee an average of 15 minutes to return their attention back to the previous task when distracted by email, instant message, etc.
I know, you think you are special and while you can accept that multi-tasking doesn’t work for everyone else, you can still manage it. I suspect that you can’t. [Also understand that there is a difference between multi-tasking and a white-noise activity. Some people need to doodle, color, play solitaire, etc. to stay focused.]
Do you ever wonder how you can get more done? Try these tips for a week – then assess: