How to Sort Through ANY Clutter Using My TEASER
Last week in my series of Running Your Business and Getting Organized I gave you 10 questions to ask yourself when sorting through your piles. This week I want to give you my TEASER of how to actually sort your piles of clutter. This is all part of my system I developed about 18 years ago titled “5W’s of Organizing, a TEASER, and a TICKLE!”© (Next time I’ll share the TICKLE part with you).
How much MONEY, TIME, and SPACE
are you losing because of your PILES and FILES?
Did You Know:
- 80% of filed papers are NEVER again referenced!
- The average office spends $20 in labor filing or retrieving a document!
- The average office spends $120 in labor to find a misfiled document!
- The average office spends $250 recreating a lost document!
(Source: Coopers & Lybrand and USA Weekend Poll)
Hopefully those stats will get you motivated, especially if you’re a small business owner – you are losing money, time, and space!
As a business owner you might find yourself really busy, especially if you are just starting your business, and you also might find things getting out of control, whether in your office and/or home.
- You print out things to be read later – you put them in a pile.
- The mail comes in – you put them in a pile.
- You make files – you put them in a pile.
- You make lists; to-do’s, ideas, and errands,- you put them in a pile.
“The promise of the ‘paperless office,’ (and home) where documents are entirely created, distributed, read, and stored on computers, has been about as reliable as the promise of a check in the mail.”
–Walter S. Mossberg; The Wall Street Journal; July 15, 1993
Eventually you will need to tackle all those piles of clutter and make decisions on what to do with them and that’s where my TEASER comes in.
Let me explain the TEASER first.
TEASER is my acronym for toss, end, act, store, enter, and refer, recycle, read, and repair.
You begin the sorting process by making MORE piles out of what you already have. Eek! I can hear you all now, “Is she crazy?” “I already have too many piles!” Not to worry; we will have them all put away in no time, the “Tickle” will explain how to keep it all in “check” so this doesn’t happen again (which I’ll reveal to you next week).
I suggest you find a flat surface to sort on, I like to use the floor, and make a sign representing each action in TEASER (some of you might need boxes, that’s okay). I call this the “sorting staging area”.
Before you get started make a date with yourself to sort – write it on your calendar – and decide how long or how much time you will work on sorting through your piles. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all done in one day – just make another date with yourself – keep it – and continue sorting until you have all your stuff sorted.
Also decide how much time you can give to this project for the day – that’s what the timer is for; say you are going to work for three hours sorting – set your timer for 55 minutes and when it dings set it for 5 minutes – stop and do what ever you need to do – get a drink, go to the bathroom, whatever, and when it dings set the timer again for 55 minutes. Keep repeating this process until your sorting time is up.
You’ll also need to decide what room, area or piles you want to begin sorting.
I also recommend you set a reward to give yourself after you have finished your sorting process – bubble bath, dinner out, tickets to an event, whatever….
Gather These Tools Before Sorting:
You can’t answer the 5 W’s, it’s outdated, or broken.
You don’t want it, you want to cancel it, or you no longer read.
Act on it
Needs an action: such as your signature, phone call, or immediate attention.
You have answered the 5 W’s and decided you need to keep. This will have three piles: Current, Reference, and Historical.
Information you need to enter into your planner or computer. You know, the stuff you find written on napkins, scraps of paper, and the backs of envelopes!
It belongs to someone else or you think they need it, or it belongs someplace else.
You can use it again, SOON, or put into a recycling bin.
Something you want/need to read.
Something that is broken, you want to use it but needs repaired.
- The first pile you want to take care of is the ACT ON IT pile. This is the pile you have put things into that needs your immediate attention within the week.
- Next deal with your STORE IT – CURRENT pile. This pile will have your current projects, clients, etc. in it.
- Your END IT and ENTER IT and REPAIR IT piles – set a date with yourself of when you are going to actually call and enter those items, or take to the repair shop.
- File your STORE IT – REFERENCE and HISTORICAL piles.
- REFER IT pile – give to the person or take to the room it really lives in.
- RECYLE pile – put in or create a recycling bin (Recycling can also be donate)
- READ IT pile – create a reading folder (take this with you when you are commuting, waiting at a doctors office, etc.) and/or place in the area you like to do your reading.
IMPORTANT SORITNG TIP!
Do NOT leave the room which you are sorting in. That is one reason for having a REFER IT pile. You will find if you leave the room to put something away you will more then likely get distracted; such as “oh I need to do the dishes, start the laundry, make the bed, etc.”, and before you know it you’ve become distracted – your timer goes off and you never got back to sorting!
Next time I’ll reveal my TICKLE – a unique and complete way to handle papers as soon as they come into your life!
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Would love to hear from you – how do you sort, what works for you, or what clutter challenges you are having.
Until next time – Happy Sorting!
P.S. – If you need expert help I’d be happy to come to your place to de-clutter you or coach you via phone – just let me know by calling 410-586-9440 or email firstname.lastname@example.org