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by Harold Taylor

If you can do without it, get rid of it. Send it to the recycle bin or to the trash can. This refers to junk mail or one-way communications that simply say, "thank you," "for your information," or "please note." Destroy it. Ditch it. Don't keep it if you don't have to.

Delegate it. If it's something that must be acted upon, and it can be done by somebody else who earns less salary than you do, delegate it. You cannot afford to pay $100/hour labor for $30/hour work. Designate a due date and direct it to a member of your staff. Record the due date in the "Follow-up" section of your planner.

Do it. If it must be done, and you're the only one who can do it, and it will take ten minutes or less, do it now. Don't defer it, dodge it or disown it. Dig in and do it. It could be a quick telephone call to reply to a letter, or an e-mail message, or a brief report. Dispense with it quickly. Don't drag it out.

Develop it. If it's important, can only be done by yourself, and will take longer than ten minutes, determine when you will do it, and schedule that time in your planner. Develop an action plan now that will ensure that it gets done in time, regardless of its magnitude. Even if the task will take 100 hours, schedule the first few hours this week. When the two hours are over, schedule another few hours the following week and so on until it's completed. How many blocks of time you schedule each week is determined by the deadline date of the task. Don' t put it on a "To Do" list if it is a priority. If you're serious about doing it, schedule time to do it. Put the paperwork in a follow-up file corresponding to the date you have selected.

Delay it. If it should be done, can only be done by you, but is not a priority, delay it by adding it to your " Things To Do" list. Work at it during spare moments that week; but don't spend prime time on it. And don' t let it displace the important tasks. If it never gets done, it's no big deal. The paperwork can go into a " To Do" folder in your right hand drawer or in a step file on your desk.

Deposit it. If the paperwork is informational and must be retained for future reference, drop it in your filing system or deposit it in a 3-ring binder so you can retrieve it easily. Don't toss it aside with the intention of filing it later.

Develop the do it now habit when dealing with paperwork. By following the "6 D" formula for dispensing with paperwork you are handling paper a minimum number of times. You either discard it, delegate it, do it, develop it, delay it or deposit it. Double handling will decrease, distractions will desist, and disorganization will disappear.

Excerpted from the best-selling book,
© 1998 by Harold L. Taylor

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