Paper Management

paperSMOh, the paper possibilities! You can pile, you can procrastinate, you can create problems for yourself, or you can prepare a system.

The 4 D’s of Productivity apply to paper management. They are:

  • Do It
  • Delegate It
  • Delete It
  • Delay It

Stephanie Winston is known for her TRAF system of dealing with paperwork, with four things you can do with paper:

  1. Toss it
  2. Refer it
  3. Act on it
  4. File it (I prefer to consider filing under the Action heading, leaving F to stand for Follow-up.)

I don’t do much delegating or referring, so the R can be for Reading.

Toss: Questions to ask when deciding whether to retain or toss a piece of paper: 1. Is this only for my own information, and now I know it? 2. Is this quality information? Objective? Reliable? Timely? Useful? Clear? (Keep the best, and forget the rest) 3. Does this information exist elsewhere? If needed in the future, could it be replaced?

Reading: Clip articles that look interesting. After reading, use criteria above to evaluate the information and make a decision whether to toss or file.

Action: Files could include a red file for priority items, to read, to file, ideas and projects, etc.

Filing: Set up a file system that works for you.


File It, Find It Home Filing System (pdf)

How long to keep files? See the record retention guidelines at Organize Your Financial Paperwork from Forbes. NOTE: There are different record retention guidelines online that can vary on what they recommend. I am not an expert in this field! This one is nice because it’s easily printable, thereby adding to your paperwork!


I seek to create order from the chaos of complex information. Join me at the Daily PlanIt to gain insights, inspiration, and information to increase skills for a better life. I unlock the power of teaching reading with phonics in the pursuit of literacy at In my spare time I explore books and movies, often choosing titles available on both screen and page.

Posted in information management, productivity
2 comments on “Paper Management
  1. […] and desk, to process paperwork and […]

  2. […] here, files there, files everywhere! There is so much paper to manage, and all kinds of files. Action files, financial files, tickler files, household records files, […]

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