How organized is your paper? Does it overwhelm you? Do you have a system to process it? I teach people to use my 3 How Questions when processing paper. These questions will guide you so you know what to do with each piece of paper that comes in your home or office.

Step 1: Stand by your inbox. (I love an inbox like these or these.)

Step 2: Pick up the top piece of paper.

Step 3: Start with the first question. If you are still holding the paper move to the next question.

Use my 3 HOW Questions when processing your paper so you know exactly what to do with each piece of paper.

Download the PDF here: Tracys_3_HOW_Questions

Get a desktop file bin, with hanging files, to store paper you need to take action on and any paper that you need to keep for less than 6 months. I like to have a hanging file for each family member in my Action File plus files like: DO, project(s), coupons, contacts, etc. As you go through your paper you can make files for your Action File that make sense for you.

Papers to keep here would be:

  • The roster to a sports team (to throw out after the sport is over).
  • The info gathered for a project in your home like new windows or paint colors for a room you are about to paint.
  • An application that you need to fill out in the next week.
  • The number to a call you have to make on Friday.

Don’t just file the papers here. FIRST, put an appointment in your calendar so the action gets done. The Action File is an organized holding spot for the papers you need to take action on.

If the papers are not temporary then put them in the file cabinet. Keep your file names broad. I have a file named INSURANCE with all my life, home and vehicle insurance in it. I don’t have each company listed separately. If I switched companies I would have to make a new file tab. I can find everything having to do with insurance in this ONE file. I do the same for INVESTMENTS. As you go through your paper you will see what files you need.

Related Content:

Home Tour: How I Organize My Office

How to Organize Paper – Video series (#1 – #5)

Develop a flow for paper coming into your office

Top 10 Tips for Organizing Paper in Your Home

Organize Your Paper Clutter Zone

Tracy’s 3-Hows for Organizing Paper

3 Essential Tools When Organizing Paper