Keeping a ‘meetings warrior’ organized

If you work for a boss who depends heavily on paper and attends up to a dozen meetings a day, executive assistant Kay Miller may have an organizing solution for you.

When documents arrive for her director-level boss, Miller physically drops printed copies into one of the 31 hanging file folders she keeps in her desk drawer.

“Without this system,” says Miller, “I would spend a lot of time shuffling papers. It’s easy to use, and I’ve shared it with a lot of co-workers, who always comment on how effective it is.”

Here’s how Miller’s paper-organizing system works:

  1. Set up 31 legal-size hanging files and label them “1” through “31,” to represent the days of any given month. File documents and other material that your boss will need on a particular date: A document needed for a meeting on Dec. 11 goes in the “11” hanging file; a follow-up reminder for next Aug. 11 also goes in the “11” file.
  2. Color-code file folders to use for the standing meetings your boss attends. Then, file them in the 31 hanging files by date. Example: Miller’s boss meets anywhere between five and 12 times a day. Miller uses red folders for her boss’s team-leader meetings, orange folders for partner meetings, etc. When she needs to file a note for one of the meetings, she can easily spot the right folder within its hanging file.
  3. Choose another color to use exclusively for the “daily folder,” so it’s easy to find even on a cluttered desk. Miller places one of these (yellow) daily folders inside each of the 31 hanging files, and she stores everything for her exec’s day in that folder, including meeting folders.
  4. Print the next day’s schedule and attach it to the daily folder. Miller maintains her boss’s schedule in Lotus Notes; he depends on her at-a-glance printouts.
  5. Deliver and review the folder. “At around 4 p.m., I’ll review his schedule for the following day,” says Miller. “In those 5 minutes, I’m also pointing out meetings to focus on, what material he might need to review, or questions to keep in mind.”

What Miller’s boss loves about the system: He rarely has to ask her where something is for the day; he simply checks the yellow folder.

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