5 Steps To Organized Active Paperwork

052510paper-01.jpgSpoiler alert ahead; Instead of watching LOST Sunday night with the rest of the world, we tuned in to see Brett Michaels win Celebrity Apprentice. And while he was "hired" it was a long road to victory. For starters, he misplaced some very important paperwork needed to help his task along. Our 5 steps for keeping active paperwork organized, after the jump.

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Prep your space Whether you're organizing for 15 minutes or an hour, you're going to want to create a distraction free zone. Turn the cell phone to silent, don't check your emails and if you come across something that lives somewhere else, put it back only when you're done organizing.

Sort Next, take a pile of paperwork and start sorting, like with like. To-do's in one pile, pending in another and so on and so forth. Don't let paperwork that you can't decide on trip you up. Set it aside and deal with it when you dedicating specific time to figuring it out. Right now, it's important to get through the pile of paperwork.

Choose a Home / Assign Color Where does your active paperwork live? In active file folders? In a pocket in your notebook? Pick a home and stick to it (the home can change later if isn't working out). If you're using file folders, we like to assign color to a category which makes the paperwork instantly identifiable.

Label It Beg, borrow or buy a label maker--best $30 you'll ever spend. If you're still not sold on a label maker, print labels or write legibly with a sharpie. Also, try thinking of fun names for your categories that will incite action on your part. Instead of "to-do" how about "do.it.now."

Go Vertical Instead of housing your paperwork in horizontal file sorters (which are impossible to search) go vertical like the file sorter pictured above. You can easily drop paperwork in the appropriate file and thumb through when you're looking for something important.

(Images: 1. Flickr member isaac bowen licensed for use under Creative Commons, 2. Beth Zeigler)