This post is my second task in the Edublogs “KickStart Your Blogging” Teacher Challenge
One of my (many) goals for 2011 is to keep a clean desk both at home and work this year. Whilst I’m pretty good at managing the digital sutff, it’s the offline hard copy stuff that I tend to be drowning in. Anyone who has seen my desk or pigeon hole at work will attest to this statement.
I started reading “PaperFlow” by MaryAnne Bennie and Brigitte Hinneberg. I was instantly taken with the beautiful photo at beginning the book showcase the increadiably clean desk and the the matching red, white and dark brown stationary and storage options. This image symbolised what I so wanted to achieve for myself.
Some truths about paper:
The book begins by talking about how paper flows through our lives and recognsing some truths about paper:
- Paper needs to earn the right to take up your space.
Paper will only fit in the space made available for it
- Look after the 20%.
80% of the paper we keep is never going to be looked at again !
- It’s always urgent when you can’t find it.
You never know when you’re going to need that important document, but when you do, it’s almost always in a hurry
- Paper likes to be with its friends.
Similar types of information and similar shapes and sizes wanted to be together.
- Your paper will tell you how it wants to be stored.
- Storage is a tool, not a solution
Storage containers, files and stationary are merely toosl, and a tool without a system is just clutter.
- Paper will evolve.
A good system will adapt, expand and contract. A good paperwork system preserves your past, documents your present and anticipates your future.
- Paper needs to flow.
When paper doesn’t flow, we experience “office constipation”
In reflecting on the above, I was able to identify my strengths and areas of opportunity. Most of the paper I had kept was stored reasonably well; similar documents were stored together and living with their friends.
One of the tasks early on the book asks you to calculcate the cost of your paper chaos. At a rough estimate, I worked out that over a week I spend about 2 hours looking for lost documents, 45 minutes duplicating work I had already done and about 3 hours sorting and resorting documents and paperwork. The task then requires you to multiply this number by 52. I attempted to find a calculator for this task, knowing there was one on my desk, but I couldn’t find it amongst all the paper ! (I ended up using my iPhone and later found out someone in the house had borrowed my calculator!). This worked out to be 312 hours a year !!! (Now I know why I didn’t have any time to write blog posts in the past! :P)
Areas for opportunity were to develop a solution to manage the flow. So many personal and work related documents were dumped in various places. On my desk, in my bag, in my pigeon hole, on the kitchen bench, somewhere in the car….) My paper wasn’t flowing and I was getting seriously blocked up ! 😛
Throughout the remainder of the book, a series of “decide now” prompts encourage you to stop and reflect or make a decision before moving on through the rest of the book. I really liked this approach as it encouraged me to stop and think about how I wanted to move forward. The book also encourages you to keep notes of your decisions as you move through the book; another task I found benificial. By the time I reached the end of each chapter I had a clear, concise list of what I had, what I needed and what was required instead of having to flick back and re-read earlier sections.
Where to now ?
I have since started to impliment the strategies suggested in PaperFlow and have documentend my journey through comments and photographs through my http://sduncan0101.posterous.com blog. I am still a long way from completing and setting up the system fully, but I am on the road to clearing the piles of paper polluting my life.
What strategies do you have to keep it under control ?
What is your paper chaos costing you ? How do you handle and manage the papers in your life ?