Today we work with wonderful machines, like computers, scanners, photocopies and fax machines. They make our working life easier but one thing is more added into our life. That is the amount of paper we have to deal with on daily basis. Paperless office is a concept in which machines will make paper obsolete in organizational setups. This thing sounds interesting in subjective terms. It is really possible. The advocate of this concept claims so. If it is so, why we still find ourselves surrounded by pieces of paper?
First prediction of paperless office was made in 1975 in Business week article. It is true that we can communicate by phone, fax or by e-mail. But we use paper as a tool of documenting all our activities, achievements, and calculations. We do send letters by e-mail but make printed copies of the replies. Question is not about using paper or not, it is about managing your paper load well.
A tidy workplace or houses are labeled as efficient workplaces and houses also. The more paper we deal with each day the more paper we keep, thus it become more difficult for us to handle them efficiently. A research shows that on average office workers spend three quarters of an hour or more a day looking for papers. So, the key requirements are less paper usage, a tidy workplace and handling of both must be in efficient manner. By knowing what to do with paper when it arrives to an individual, where to put it if he has to kept it or how to deal with it effectively will certainly save time and improve the patterns of work style of that individual. In order to do so we devise a clearance action plan for effectively manage our paper load.
First choose a time when you can spend at least half an hour. Four things are needed for this plan.
- Wastepaper Bins
- Four Cardboard Boxes
- Files, Folders, Makes pen
At start label your boxes with “no idea” “pass on” “immediate” and “compulsory”. The box with label of “no idea” will be filling with all those papers that are ambiguous or we do not know what to do with them. The ‘pass on’ box is for those papers that should be dealt by other people’s collaborations. ‘Immediate’ box is for papers that we must deal with-in fact that is our work at office or utility bills in the scenario of home. The ‘compulsory’ box will contain all those papers that absolutely must be kept. And by default all the rubbish stuff goes into our wastepaper bin.
The individual must keep working around his desk at office or at home until all the papers have been dealt with. Include anything else that is of paper like magazines, reports, stationery, books etc. Put them in bookshelf.
Following tips are also very helpful in this regard:
- If you are not sure about a document that should be kept for reference? Put it in a box for three months. If nobody asks throw it away from your desk
- Put a red dot on a piece of paper every time you pick up. Three dots deal with it immediately
- Accept that no office is going to be paperless
- Keep your legal and financial documents in compulsory box
- Use FPAT to scrutinize incoming papers. It is simple File the paper, Pass it on to someone, Act on it or Throw it away
- Clear your desk on regular basis
- Keep only necessary papers in hand
- Try to reduce the amount of paper reaching you
Papers are an integral part of our life. Handling of cluster of papers is a skill that is very easy to learn. By practicing it we can save much time for ourselves. Time is the most precious thing in this world. Save it for yourself whenever any opportunity comes by you.
Inspiration thought of Alan Lakein will seal the moment for now: “Time=Life, therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life."