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How to Pile, Instead of File, If You Must

I’ve been known to urge, “File, Don’t Pile!” I think a well designed, thoughtfully organized filing system is an excellent choice for those who want to put papers away, eliminate the distraction of papers on their desk that they don’t need right now, and who want to be able to find what they need, when they need it.

With that said, I have come across a few clients or seminar participants who really like their piles, they just want them tidier and more organized. They worry about “out of sight, out of mind” and insist on keeping particular paper out right in front of them; especially papers they need to act on.

My husband is one such “client”.  As long as I’ve known him (22 years), he’s been a paper piler. While not my personal preference, I can respect that, for the most part, piling works out o.k. for him. The drawbacks are that the piles become unruly, and that things would get “lost”; important papers buried below unimportant.

When I was sent Pendaflex’s PileSmart products and asked to review them, I knew I had a perfect test case. My “client” and I set aside an afternoon and began with one of his piles.

We went through the process of sorting what was there, tossing the clutter, separating out papers that required action, and filing away a few things that were for reference and that Rob didn’t want to have out. This process alone brought the pile down to a much more manageable size.

From there, we determined the “next step” Rob needed to take on each piece of paper, and sorted them according to categories that made sense to him and corresponded with a particular action. We used the PileSmart Organizer Tray and Dividers to keep things tidy and categorized. The dividers come with labels on both the sides and ends for easy viewing from either angle. They also come with tabs that you can write on and erase, so you’re able to change your mind about the category or easily fix mistakes.

The other product we used was the PileSmart View Folders. These project folders are enclosed on three sides to hold loose papers that are related to each other together. They also have a Write-On Tab for easy labeling. We used these folders to hold together multiple papers related to one project that Rob was going to refer to when he took action on some research he needed to conduct. The only criticism I have of these folders is that when used in conjunction with the PileSmart Dividers, the View Folders are larger and therefore cover up the Divider tabs, making them harder to see/read.

Here’s Rob’s pile “after”. Much, much better. We included a “to do” list on top, capturing reminders of action steps he needed to take that corresponded to papers in the pile. With the papers now categorized based on what Rob needs to do with them, he’s able to find them easily, and can save time by chunking activities, should he choose. For example, all paper that requires a phone call is now together, so that he can make those calls all at once and knock that category out efficiently.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a more formal review of the PileSmart Products, including details about features, cost, pros and cons, and where to find them, should you like to give them a spin.

I know I’ll be keeping an eye on the Piler in my life, to see how these products (and some of the “keep it organized” tips I taught him) work out.

Are you a loyal piler? Is it working out for you? What are products or techniques you’ve employed so that you can find what you need when you need it and that things don’t fall through the cracks? We’d love to hear from you. Comment away!

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