Manage Your Paper With a RAFT

Ruthless paperwork is the route to a clean desk. It’s a problem of small-scale decision-making, every piece of paper requires a decision and a final destination. Too often, papers fall prey to the procrastination syndrome: I’ll think about it tomorrow.

Ideally, mail and paperwork should be attended to for a few minutes every day. If the amount is small, three times a week may do. You don’t want papers to build up to the point where you look at it and you get discouraged. The easiest way to avoid that is to keep up to date.

Files can be kept in open piles on a desk or in folders, according to your style. If a clean visual environment is important to you, use boxes and folders as you RAFT. If you prefer a look of activity and busyness, paper piles may be the answer.

If you do keep stuff, keep it in a way so that it doesn’t jam up your life and you can find it again.

Use the RAFT template: refer it, act on it, file it or toss it.

  • Refer it to the correct person, if you’re not the one to handle it.
  • Act on it immediately. Items that can be dealt with easily, do now; David Allen’s two-minute rule.
  • File it, if necessary. Eighty percent of filed papers are never looked at again. Make sure you really need it before you keep it.
  • Toss out anything you no longer need. Don’t keep routine memos or anything that gives you information you already know or have. Record meeting information on your calendar, then toss the memo. We you receive document revisions, toss the orginals.
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Sleep on Your To-Do List to Get Things Done

To-do list getting a little long? Do you have problems remembering all you need to do?

Take the list to bed with you.

New research suggests, when planning for tomorrow’s to-do’s, sleeping on it will make you more likely to get things done.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that people who sleep after storing a memory end up following through on their intentions much more effectively than people who jump right in without sleeping.

While most studies on the link between sleep and memory deal with retrospective memory (things that happened in the past), this one focused on prospective memory (things you intend to do).

Prospective memory involves such everyday tasks as remembering to buy milk or to keep an appointment. It gets an especially good workout when you have many things to get done.

Understanding that sleep strengthens prospective memory is a valuable tool in handling your obligations efficiently.

Take a lesson from this research the next time you have a full agenda at work the following day. Give your memory a boost and ensure you’ll be at the top of your game by getting a good night’s sleep.

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