Make Your Folders Do the Work

Get-It-Done Guy explains how to make your folders work for you.

Stever Robbins
1-minute read

Make Your Folders Do the Work

When I don't have time to handle incoming items, I stick them in file folders. I have a folder of "incoming mail," "bills to be paid," and so on. But these folders have grown really thick lately. Part of the hurdle in getting to the folders is that each time I pick one up, I have to think about how to deal with the stuff inside. And let's be honest: thinking can be hard work, especially when it's about stupid administrative stuff that we hate. Here's a way to eliminate all that onerous thinking and replace it with simple, blind compliance.

When you have a file folder full of items to be processed, on the inside of the file folder, write down the steps you'll have to take to deal with the items inside. When it's time to deal with that folder, just open it and follow the instructions you've written down.

For example, in a folder of notes from a prospecting event, the instructions might be:

  1. Enter all names and phone numbers into sales tracking system.
  2. Schedule a call with each one.
  3. Scan the business cards into business card archive.
  4. Throw away business cards and note papers.

A bonus with this technique is that when you're on the beach enjoying your day off and your colleague calls in a panic asking you the status of a customer order, you can just direct them to the appropriate folder. "As long as you're in that folder," you can explain, "just follow the directions on the inside of the folder and everything will be taken care of, lickety-split."

Colorful data folders from Shutterstock

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.