Does the following scenario sound familiar?

You come into your office, sit down and look at the papers spread out on your desk and pick one of them up. It’s from John. “Oh, I have to call John,” you say. So you start a to-do pile somewhere on your desk and that paper goes into the pile.

You pick up another piece of paper – this one a complaint letter from a customer. You think, “I have to answer this letter.” It goes on the new to-do pile.

The third piece of paper outlines a problem to be handled. “I have to talk to the boss about this,” you mumble and onto the to-do pile it goes.

You pick up the fourth piece of paper and say, “This isn’t important. I can do it later.” So you create a do-later stack next to your growing to-do pile.

And on it goes.

You end up shuffling through your various stacks of papers, and by the time you actually get back to your to-do pile, you read through each piece again!

Some of us are masters at shuffling papers. We move them from one side of our desks to the other and then back again. We start piles of stuff-to-do and then re-pile them next week.

This entire process would almost be okay if we only shuffled through paperwork twice. But some of us look at our papers three, four, or more times before we ever act on them.

It takes a lot longer to do something four or more times than it does to do it once.

All you’re really accomplishing here is killing precious time. You know … that thing that you’re already in short supply of?

Here’s an interesting stat for your consideration:

The average person spends 3 hours per week sorting piles trying to find the next project or task to work on.

Do you ever wonder where your time goes? I know where you might be losing about 3 hours a week.

If you’d like to ‘find’ some time …

Act on an item the first time you touch it or read it.

I’m not talking about those things that you can’t do now or even those things you shouldn’t do now. I’m talking about all the things that you could and should do, but you don’t.

I’m talking about routine paperwork of the sort you encounter every day.

Take care of these things the first time you touch them and you’ll save yourself a ton of time.

Call John. Respond to that email message. Answer the customer’s letter of complaint … do it now! You’ll be amazed at how little time it takes and how good you’ll feel when it’s done.

Here’s the deal …

If you’re not going to act on your paperwork, don’t waste time looking at it.

If you’re not going to return your voice mail messages, don’t waste time listening to them.

If you’re not prepared to respond to your emails, don’t even bother looking.

Don’t clog up your day with the stuff you aren’t going to do. Instead, move on to what you are going to do and just get done once and for all.

The key to getting stuff done is to simply take action on stuff. Be as clever about completing stuff as you’ve been about putting them off.

Take action … get more done.

About Georgina Forrest

Georgina Forrest is a Productivity Coach & Organizing Specialist at Smartworks! Enterprises Inc. in Red Deer, Alberta. Her credentials include Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®), Organizer Coach, and membership with Professional Organizers in Canada (POC) where she has attained Gold Leaf status – a designation acknowledging her as an experienced professional organizer. Her specialties are geared toward increasing productivity, streamlining administration and decreasing stress in the workplace. She will teach you how to manage your time, space and information so you can be more effective and efficient at work. Additionally she offers training programs, productivity coaching and time management-related presentations.