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Dig out from under the paper avalanche

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in Office Management,Office Organizer

In the wink of an eye, team leaders can find themselves buried under an avalanche of reports, printouts and publications — and be uninformed at the same time. Here are a few tips that can keep you safe and sound:

- Reduce the number of reports you receive. Eliminate the ones that are repetitive or present the same information in several formats — lists, tables, charts, and so on. Consider eliminating any reports that you haven't used in several months unless you know you need them.

- Pass on periodicals you don't need. If issues of certain periodicals are piling up unread in your office, chances are you can and should pass them on to someone else. If you decide you want (or need) to read them in the future, you can always get your name back on the routing slip.

- Delegate some of the reading. Select a responsible person or two on your staff to review material and keep you current. (Those periodicals that you aren't getting around to reading are a good place to start delegating.) Be sure to train people to recognize data that needs to be presented directly to you.

- When material is in your hands, read it. We waste plenty of time picking up things, starting on them, and then returning them to the pile for later. Handling paper only once is a time-tested principle of time management.

- Keep materials accessible, but out of sight. Unless you use them every day, don't keep reports and periodicals on your desk. Develop a storage or filing system that will keep the materials close at hand and organized.

- Set aside a time to read every day. Once you have decided what you really need to read, do it. Use fifteen minutes when you return from lunch. Or the last twenty minutes before you leave the office at the end of the day. The key is to designate that time as reading time and get in the habit of using it that way.

- Get rid of guilt. Chances are very good that you glance at the paper piles at least once an hour and spend several minutes steeping in your guilt. This is a waste of time and energy. Reading is not a moral issue; it's a management issue. Decide to read or not to read, but don't waste a second feeling guilty about your decision.

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