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Paper, Filing, And Information Management Workshop Topics

There are a lot of “i’s” to dot and “t’s” to cross (why is it never “j’s” to dot and “x’s” to cross?) when you start a business — make sure you’re not overlooking an important administrative or legal to-do, with this assemblage of “get-your-litigitory-ducks-in-a-row-before-you-end-up-in-court” seminars. The content is based on my book, “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career” — however, these workshops are appropriate for all consultants and freelancers (from organizing to graphic art, from personal training to accounting, from interior design to project management — and everything in-between). If you’re an independent contractor who sees clients (and plans on maybe getting paid for your services) — this educational series is for you!

Each can be scheduled for any size professional group as a live private teleseminar/webinar or an in-person event — I’m prepared to give you anywhere from 90 minutes of my life to several days in a row, whatever it takes to make sure you understand the concepts you need to succeed. I’m also happy to shorten, lengthen, cut-and-paste, moosh together multiple topics, or otherwise customize the content to suit your attendees’ schedule, interests, and budget. And if you’re one lone entrepreneur flying solo in the world, you can certainly purchase a pre-recorded download of the program to listen to in the comfort of your own home/office. (Just as soon as I get a chance to tape it fer ya!)

Clip Art -- Speaking TeacherI Love You, I Hate You, I Need You:
How We Interact With Our Documents

Avoiding information overload (of the physical or electronic kind) is about having a functional relationship with your data — one that includes the liberal drawing of healthier frigging boundaries! This workshop challenges some key misconceptions about managing the in/out box — offering tips for creating more effective systems to stay on top of paper and virtual files:

  • the age of the informavore
  • in search of the paperless office
  • the myth of “only touch it once”
  • a virtual mirror of your system
  • help for the paper-phobic

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 7In-Boxes, Out-Boxes, And File Cabinets:
Addressing Routine Paper Management Issues

Computer be damned — paper is still the #1 organizing thorn in most people’s sides! Any get-your-life-in-order strategy needs to begin with that stack of documents cluttering the desk (or countertop). This workshop examines the most typical filing, to-do, and junk mail woes folks face — offering a mix of practical strategies for improving each situation:

  • orderly office filing
  • perfect personal filing
  • what to do with incoming action items
  • realistic reduction strategies
  • becoming the “paper master”

Clip Art -- Speaking TeacherWhat’s Your Paper Personality?
Recognizing And Overcoming Common Paper Predilections

There’s no one “right” method for managing paper — there are as many ways to handle a document as there are people on the planet! And it may take a few different systems to get everything under control — to-dos, information for future reference, hard copies, and electronic data. This workshop offers practical strategies for making any organizing style more effective:

  • “filers” vs. “pilers”
  • “corrallers” vs. “free roamers”
  • “verbifiers” vs. “nounerators”
  • “matchers” vs. “mismatchers”
  • “openers” vs. “closers”
  • “action” vs. “reference”
  • “fingertip” vs. “filed away”
  • “active” vs. “archive”
  • “electronic” vs. “paper”

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 7The Fine Line Between “Keep” And “Toss”:
Asking The Hard Questions About Paper

Making the decision to toss information is harder than getting rid of physical “stuff” — because there are so many more potential consequences (especially with legal or financial paperwork). This workshop helps you logically consider the pros and cons of keeping each document, including a detailed look at the official records retention guidelines you should be following:

  • what’s working, what isn’t, and what would your filing look like in a perfect world?
  • what purpose does it serve in your life? (and how long are you required to keep it?)
  • when was the last time you referenced it? (and has it become obsolete or outdated?)
  • who might ask for that information in the future? (and how hard would it be to find again?)
  • what’s the worst thing that would happen if you got rid of it?

Clip Art -- Speaking TeacherGoing From “To-Do” To “To-Done”:
The Paper Sorting Process Made Simple

Rather than dropping that mish-mosh of paper on the desk (or counter), what if you took a sec and sorted those documents according to the action they require? Then actually scheduled time in your calendar to tackle each to-do? No more piles or missed deadlines! This workshop teaches a quick and easy system for making the daily deluge much more manageable:

  • no such thing as a miscellaneous to-do
  • action files that get acted on
  • short-term project files
  • making use of the circular file (and safely shredding sensitive documents)
  • innovative sorting approaches

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 7F Is For Filing:
Customizing A System That Works For You

We all have our funky filing foibles — and while there’s no right or wrong way to do it, if you’re having trouble finding a document you’ve stashed away, it might be time for a few adjustments! This workshop looks at each paper personality’s strengths and weaknesses, then offers a few tricks for turning those information management “fails” into long-lasting successes:

  • for-other-folks, facsimile, and forever filers
  • full-to-overflowing, fulsome, few folder, and frequent-to-a-fault filers
  • fitful, fearful, and flaky filers
  • flat, free-form, and feeling lucky filers
  • fuzzy, faulty, flawed name, and fuggedaboutit filers

Clip Art -- Speaking TeacherCan Piling Be Prevented?
Magically Making The Stacks Disappear

Sometimes piles are inevitable, but stacks are more often sign of stagnation — an indication that your system has not evolved to meet your changing information management needs. This workshop offers techniques for preventing paper accumulation by keeping it flowing — across your desk, through to completion, and into files that continue to grow with you over the years:

  • first, you have to identify the reasons
  • see a pile, create a file
  • keeping paper moving forward
  • camouflaging the piles
  • finding a resting place

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 7How Long Do I Have To Keep It?
Understanding Records Retention Guidelines

This is a vexing question for most folks to answer — because honestly, they haven’t got a clue. But it’s dangerous to toss (or keep) a document willy-nilly, with no real understanding of “why” — especially when those kindly governmental agencies have worked so hard to set expiration dates for you. This workshop explains exactly when to let go of each type of paper in your life:

  • why records retention matters
  • start with a records inventory
  • creating a defensible citation-based policy
  • using off-site records storage
  • keep 3 years, 7-12 years, forever (or special circumstances)

Clip Art -- Speaking TeacherThe Care And Feeding Of Your Files:
A Quick Lesson In Paper Management Essentials

There’s more to staying on top of paper than placing an in-box on your desk! This workshop examines the many different components of a good information management system — from the old philosophy that “the less you have, the easier it is to organize” to alternative document storage solutions, from quality categorization to the long-term care and feeding of your files:

  • reducing incoming paper, getting off the junk mail lists, and minimizing paper at work
  • e-mail handling strategies and managing subscriptions/publications
  • binders, bins, and safety deposit box storage (a.k.a. “not everything goes in a file”)
  • color-coding, naming conventions, and general-to-specific labeling
  • it’s all about maintenance

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 7Even Bills Need A Place To Call Home:
Designing A Functional Document Storage System

Filing is one thing — but effective filing is a completely different beast! Knowing where to put a document once you’re done with it (and then being able to find it again when you need it in the future) is about constructing a classification system that suits your way of thinking, work style, and relationship with your paper — and this workshop will help you do exactly that:

  • choosing the right system for the person and paper
  • alphabetical, numerical, and alpha-numeric filing
  • chronological filing
  • categorical filing
  • folders, tabs, and other assorted details

Clip Art -- Speaking TeacherThe Truly Paperless Office:
Is It Achievable? (Or Worth The Effort?)


Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 7Getting Ready To Battle The Piles:
Equipping Your Paper Organizing Arsenal

So what exactly should you have on hand when starting a paper-and-information organizing project? How can you have any clue what supplies you’ll need? Or be able to accurately estimate how much space your documents will take up? This workshop walks you through the types of tools (both physical and informational) that will make your filing go more smoothly:

  • no really – putting together your actual toolbox
  • filing supplies
  • paper sorting aids
  • indexing and cross-referencing tools
  • creating a document management action plan

PS: Wanna instantly rack up some serious virtual cred? I've made it easy for you to share this content with your social networking friends, e-mail it to your peeps, or republish it in your own blog (thereby showing off how smart you are) with these links.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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