Have you ever suffered from the following scene? Your desk breeds paper every time you turn your back on it – layer upon layer of miscellaneous paper, magazines, newsletters, invitations to this and that, reports, files and vital tasks you mustn’t forget to attend to. Every couple of weeks, with grim determination and fired by a sense of desperation, you approach this monstrosity supposed to be a desk.
‘I’m not doing a single thing today until I clean up this mess’, you mutter through clenched teeth.
You spend an hour or two of your most productive time (if you’re lucky) shuffling pieces of paper across the surface of the desk, and eventually it’s all sorted out. New and reorganised piles decorate the perimeter of your working space, and you sit back with a sigh of satisfaction, saying to yourself, ‘That’s better. I won’t let that happen again.’
Guess what? For many folk, within a couple of weeks, the pattern is repeated!
One of the biggest management challenges for most people is how to survive the deluge of information, either via paper or an electronic medium. The good news is – we live in the information age, but we don’t have to be overwhelmed by it.
With the whole subject of paper and information, whether it’s paper or computer-based, there are only a few basic areas. The biggest challenge is – many strategies are so obvious that people overlook them and therefore suffer unnecessary stress and pressure. This book has the solutions – here you’ll find everything broken down into three main quick-to-digest and practical sections, and also two bonus sections (which will in due course become further books).
Part 1: Layout and equipment
Part 2: Get organised
Part 3: Stay organised
Part 4: Working from home
Part 5: Handling electronic information
From Chapter 13 Why We Feel Overwhelmed!
(Just one example to whet your appetite)
We may not be able to change the volume of information the world spits at us, but we can change the way we handle it
It’s the sense of being out-of-control that people don’t like about an overload of information: it’s the feeling of being on a runaway horse that creates so much stress. However, we do have power over our own behaviour, how we respond, and how we adapt.
In some cases we need to modify our behaviour. In other situations we must modify our environment and learn to block out and switch off. The best possible day-to-day information-handling skills will assist you to keep sane, instead of just sinking despairingly under the flood.
So what can you do to keep up to date with what’s relevant? How can you block out the irrelevant? Let’s go back to our newly immaculate office.
3. Don’t relax yet! We’re talking new habits!
The big temptation for folk, once they’ve got their environment cleaned out, is to think the job is done – and relax. In fact, we never can.
In one of my very early ‘Win the paper war’ courses a CEO, after listening to other peoples’ tales of woe, suddenly announced with satisfaction,
‘Now I know why I have to work such long hours, Robyn. If I turn my back on the stuff, it breeds.’
A roll of laughter swept around the room – they all understood exactly what he was talking about.
Ask anyone with an organised office if it comes naturally to be uncluttered. If they have a halfway busy life most of them will assure you that it’s a conscious decision to stay that way, coupled with good old self-discipline.
4. Be a quick responder
A group of senior credit control managers attended one of my speeches. Afterwards Eddie came up to chat.
‘I run an extremely busy office, with many demands on my time. The key that’s gained me the reputation of being a good time manager is simple. Wherever possible I act immediately. Most people say, ‘I’ll do something about it later’ or ‘leave it with me’, and of course all the ‘laters’ pile up around them, weigh them down, and make them feel less effective (and they are!). No matter how much I feel like deferring a decision or an action, wherever possible I push myself to handle it on the spot.’
Key Point. Do it fast, and do it now.
Catalyst For Efficiency ImprovementsIt was great to introduce our two job-share receptionists to Robyn’s Getting a Grip on The Paper War text. It became a catalyst for us to improve our administration proce..." Marie Collins, Business Manager, The NZ Institute of Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery
Enhanced Efficiency Thank you for all the tips and words of advice you and your team have sent through.I have been constantly reading it and it does wonders to my line of work and also being a wife and mot..." Anaseini Liku, Communication & Media Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Cook Islands
Clear Directions Enhance Use Of TimeI have just finished reading 'Getting a Grip on Time' and 'Getting a Grip on the Paper War'. Particularly your book on 'Time' got me back on track, and during the day I catc..." Ingrid Geerlings, Owner, www.houseofmilk.com
Leadership Book Helps To find the Real Me‘I’ve just been reading ‘Getting a grip on Leadership’. It is very good and has had an impact on me. I realised I’d lost my way a bit re who I am ..." Heather Millar, Manager, Professional Practice, Central North Island Kindergarten Association, New Zealand
Additional $120,000 Billed After Time Management CourseI have personally known Robyn Pearce for around 16 years. From time to time my firm has contracted Robyn on a project basis to work with our professional staff as well as partners in the fi..." John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, New Zealand
The Librarian Who Got Her Life Back!The kick-start that I needed was delivered by a velvet glove, but make no mistake the iron hand within the glove ensured that the message was received and understood. If you are going to spend some..." Heather Jenks, Associate University Librarian (Research and Learning Services), University of Canterbury
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Successful Paper Management Seminar Thank you for your interesting and indeed challenging speech. I could see all the people who've ..." Australian Institute of Credit Managers, Sydney Branch
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Immediate Action For Change A lot of great new ideas and some very good new tools that I shall start implementing immediately. Group Services Trainer, Adecco
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