Thursday, April 19, 2007

Action Papers: What to DO with them until you are ready to do something WITH them!

Do you have important papers, forms, receipts, coupons, brochures and even scraps of paper that you need to act on but no where to keep them until you find the time to get the job done? Are those papers all over your counter top or plastered to your fridge as a reminder of your many to do's that just aren't getting done? If so, you will be interested in a great system I use that helps me deal with my "action papers." All you need is 3 folders, all those papers gathered up and your planner/to do list ready to write some things down.

When I talk about "action papers" I am talking about the papers that you have to act on or do something with. To hold these papers until I am ready for them I use 3 folders labeled: "Have To", "Should Do" and "Could Do." As I file my action papers into these folders I am automatically prioritizing their importance. I also record the thing I need to do on my to do list. I use a Treo, but a paper to do list will work just fine as long as you make a habit of recording the things you need to do on a regular basis. You can keep a master to do list as a record of everything you need to do and then have a daily to do list where you write down just the things you need to do in one day. You can even keep your to do lists it in the front of your "Have To" folder. The important thing is to write your to do's down and make a habit of referring to it daily.

1. The "Have To" folder is for very important action items. It is used for the urgent matters and items that, if left undone, I (or a family member) will suffer a negative consequence for having neglected it. I would like to point out here that I do not include bills to pay in this folder. Bills have their own folder which is kept in my bill paying area. In the "Have To" folder you might put a form that needs to be signed and mailed immediately. Mine is actually empty right now which is my favorite part of using this system--it feels so good to empty that "Have To" folder.

2. The "Should Do" folder is for action items that I really should get done sometime soon but that can wait a little while because there is no due date or immediate negative consequence for not doing it. In my should do folder right now, I have a card to send my mom, a brochure for a tanning salon that I really should visit before going on my anniversary cruise in two weeks so I don't burn to a crisp on day 1 (but really I could just go white and use 50 SPF!) and the two credit card offers I am considering right now.

3. The "Could Do" folder is great. That is where things go that I would "love to do someday" or "would be nice to do if I have the time." I have a coupon for Let's Dish, a flier for a nearby nail salon, a sheet telling me how to update my Windows Media Player, some information on IRA accounts, and a renewal form for my REAL SIMPLE magazine subscription. All things that I could do but I won't be crying if they don't get done.

Melissa's Top 3 Reasons for Trying this System for 30 days:
1-It helps you learn how to prioritize your to do items.
2-It's flexible. You can change your priorities as the need arises.
3-It gives you a logical holding spot for things that usually just end up in piles or posted on the fridge because you need to do it someday but you just aren't ready to do it today!

Just remember to do what it takes to make it work for you and make it fun. You can use color file folders--Red for "Have To," Orange for "Should Do" and Blue for "Could Do." Mine are manilla because I find paperwork fun anyway! It's all about finding something that works for you. Good luck and keep me posted!


mothergoose said...

Ha, I love the top 3 reasons to try for 30 days! We will give it a shot at our place, it sounds great!!

mothergoose said...

I'm curious about your laundry skills... I noticed a tinge of satisfaction coming from you the other night when we were all talking about the laundry.

I loathe the laundry so do you have any tips on how I can enjoy it a little more?

Busy Bee said...

I think you meant pride not satisfaction! :) Hmmm...there's only two of us so that automatically makes it a little easier but it seems like I've figured out a few things in the last year that have made me not laothe laundry like I used to. I'll think about the specific things that help me and maybe make that my next post.

Musimommy said...

I love the have to, should do, could do folders! I definitely need this at my place! Oh, this is your friend from college, Ms. Jenni. I got your site from mother goose.

Busy Bee said...

Hi Ms. Jenni! So good to hear from you! Mother Goose is such a great advertiser--it's one of her many gifts! I"m glad you like the idea. If you decide to give it a try and want to detail the system furthur you can use a hanging file folder set up for the "Have To", "Should Do", "Could Do" (colors are fun!) and then use manilla folders within the hanging files to keep you more aware of what you put in there. For example, within "Have To" you could have a "To Pay" Folder where you keep your bills. Or you might have a folder called "Mark on my Calendar" for papers with dates you need. Let me know how it goes! Mother Goose is trying it out too so she might have some good pointers.


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