As a professional office organizer, I found that the majority of people sought my help because of the piles of paperwork that were encroaching on their workspace. Some clients had basic organizing skills, and often a fairly decent filing system, but were simply not making time to file their paid bills, completed projects, and so on. For the majority, however, it was not that simple.
Many visual thinkers are quite insistent that their paperwork must be in view at all times. Sometimes a desktop vertical organizer will work well, especially if it is slanted so that all the file labels are visible, but if your client has a large number of active projects, or if the files are very thick, it may not be very effective. Under these circumstances, the organizing product I recommended most often was a literature sorter.
As shown in the above photo, it consists of a number of sections, similar to the mail slots frequently seen in large offices. You can assign a specific topic or project to each section, affixing a label to the front of the shelf, and when your client receives a piece of mail or other document, he or she can quickly and easily put it away in the appropriate section. This ensures that all documentation related to a particular project is kept together, without having to dig through piles of paperwork on your desk to match them up.
Because a literature sorter is only slightly deeper than a sheet of standard letter-sized paper, it can fit on most desktops without taking up valuable workspace, but if your client has a smaller desk, you may need to place it on top of a filing cabinet, credenza, or small table located within your work area.
I’ve found that a literature sorter works well for all kinds of people. It works for “pilers” because it allows them to continue piling, but instead of having unidentified piles all over their desk (or office floor!), they have neatly organized and labelled piles, which also makes life easier for any associates who may need to find information when they are not in the office. People who like more traditional organizing strategies also like this system, because they can customize the sections to meet their individual needs, and easily modify them as their workload changes.
Literature organizers are manufactured in a variety of materials, including cardboard, plastic, laminate, wood, and steel, and in sizes ranging from 12 to 72 sections. Some of them are stackable so you can expand the system if needed. To view some of the products available, visit Amazon.com or your favorite office supply store.
If your client isn’t convinced that they can adapt to this system, they may wish to start with a cardboard version, and then invest in a sturdier product once they’re sold on the idea.
Do you have any other strategies for paper pilers?