Note to Self: No More Paper Notes

  • By birdie@getorganizedcolumbus.com
  • 15 Aug, 2016
Notepad
I always tell my clients, “a note to self now, is a growing pile of something that needs attention later.” Many clients who struggle with paper management keep loads of paper with randomly written notes. This is practiced without acknowledging the lack of time or desire to later decipher between which note matters. In reality, very little of it actually matters if it […] 
I always tell my clients, “a note to self now, is a growing pile of something that needs attention later.” Many clients who struggle with paper management keep loads of paper with randomly written notes. This is practiced without acknowledging the lack of time or desire to later decipher between which note matters. In reality, very little of it actually matters if it can’t be easily found. True action items have to be dealt with more readily, and in today’s world–without scrap paper. Here are a few tips we hope will help keep you mindful of when to take a note, and when to replace the habit with a different behavior to reduce your paper piles and that overwhelming feeling of “what is this, and why did I write this down?”
  1. Randomly written notes are not good for tracking things that require immediate action. Instead we suggest using a calendar (paper or electronic) to list your daily/weekly action items. If you use a list tool like one available in your phone, then be sure to delete it each day when you prepare a list for the next day.
  2. Do not write down phone numbers and addresses or keep business cards. If you have email or a cell phone, you have access to a Contact database which eliminates the need for kept paper. In addition, any legitimate business will have their phone number listed on their web site. Business cards need not linger around. Also if you own a scanner, many programs will let you scan the card directly into the database.
  3. Recognize when you are taking a Reference Note that requires no immediate action from other types of notes. Say for example, you wanted to write down an author’s name that you heard while talking to a friend. Now where are you going to keep this that makes sense in your home? Reference items are space stealers and are rarely found again to use. We suggest adopting an electronic note system like Evernote or the one built into your phone to keep things for reference of minor relevance. To avoid electronic piles, it is important to create reference categories such as: Reading List/Recipes/Favorite Wines, etc., and then date new entries under each category. I personally like to use my time in waiting rooms to clean up any old electronic notes I no longer care about.
  4. Do not keep cards and envelopes to remind you to write thank you notes. Upon receipt of a card, make sure the name and address is in your contact list. Recycle the envelope. Enjoy the card. Create a separate action item in your calendar or to-do list titled: “Thank You’s {date}” and list the names of those to recognize. Paper be gone!
  5. Resist the urge to keep mailed advertisements as reminders to call or research a service. Instead, send these directly to your recycle bin and make an electronic “Call” or “Research” list. It is important to put dates on these entries as months can go by before ever taking action.
  6. The dreaded grocery list need not be etched on paper. Notice I say List, singularly. If you use an electronic tool for this, be sure to delete each old list and replace with the most current one to stay up to date. You should really have only one functional grocery list at a time. Or check to see if your favorite grocer has an app that will allow you to create the list within their database. This will help you match discounts and coupons to the items on the list.
You might be asking if it is ever good to write anything down–and the answer is YES! It is good to write down passwords, account numbers, and personal identification information in the event that electricity is interrupted or databases are compromised. But these items should be kept together in ONE place.
We hope you feel inspired to challenge yourself–drop an old habit and pick up a new one; and leave all that paper behind. For more information about organization, visit us at http://www.getorganizedcolumbus.com
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