Filing In Style


The most important thing to remember whenever you have to do some kind of drudgery – like filing – is to wear a cute outfit. Seriously, it helps. I tend toward the sparkly for my filing attire. It just feels so much better than doing something I don’t like, while wearing something I don’t like. What’s the sense of that?

That being said, I try to do drudgery – like filing, cleaning the hair out of the drain, and making dinner – as seldom as possible and as quickly as possible. Here are my my lickety-split filing methods…


Gather all of your papers into one pile and set yourself up near a waste-paper bin.  As soon as you start, you are going to touch each paper for as little time as possible.  Make very quick decisions about whether a piece of paper goes in one of three piles:  ACTION, FILE, TRASH/SHRED.  Work really super fast during this first Quick Sort.


STEP # 2

Coffee (or tea) break.  Yep – government employees do it and you can too!  Take a minute and enjoy a treat to reward yourself for getting through the hardest part of this effort – getting started!


If you were unable to complete STEP #2, I am sorry, but there are no treats for you.  Go back, set a timer for 15 minutes, and make yourself work fast. I know you can do it.


You will want to deal with the ACTION pile immediately – so you won’t be up at night worrying about missing a deadline or wondering whether you left a child somewhere (or is that just me?).

Whenever I am working with the ACTION pile, I like to keep a TO DO list on hand. (Actually, I keep my TO DO list on hand at all times.) Anytime I can write down a TO DO and toss the paper I was keeping to remind me to DO it, I can taste victory over the piles that threaten to overwhelm me. I keep one TO DO list for everything (work, kids and personal) because it all has to get done eventually and will inevitably be prioritized against each other. I also like knowing everything I have TO DO is in one place. (And it is feels really awesome to see all the crossed off TO DO’s in one place!)


With your TO DO list at the ready, do another Quick Sort of the ACTION pile into three piles: URGENT – DO IT NOW!, DO IT LATER, and MAYBE DO IT.


URGENT – DO IT NOW items are things like pay the mortgage if it is overdue, register for camp if the deadline is looming, and buy wrinkle cream.

DO IT LATER items are the dog’s new tags, the magazine you need to return to a doctor’s office, prescriptions that need refilling soon, and health plan information you need to review.  (When you are done with sorting, these items can be filed so that they can easily be found when you are ready to deal with them.)

DO IT MAYBE items are a new recipe you might want to try, vacation ideas for someday, and a 30-day free trial for BJ’s Wholesale Club. (When you are done with sorting, these items can be left in a folder and ignored. If you ever need the information, it will be there in your MAYBE file.)


File whatever is left over from the initial FILE pile and the DO IT LATER pile. Just dig in and get it done, knowing that your job is much more manageable now that you have whittled your pile down to only the most essential papers. Set your timer and work in 15 minute spurts if you have to.


At this point, it is completely appropriate to eat an entire pan of brownies. I am here to tell you that it isn’t that difficult to do. You deserve a really big treat for getting through your pile of papers and making some sense of it all. Luckily, you looked good while you were doing it!


What do you like to wear while doing drudgery?

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  1. Erica says:

    Sooooooo….. what would you suggest if your pile is so huge that it keeps tipping over?! Send a round-trip ticket to an inspirational, plenty perfect friend to come for a visit???
    Awesome suggestions, Annie. Love it!

    1. annie kip says:

      I know how that can be, Erica! My office gets so backed up too. I sometimes have to set the timer and just do 15 minutes worth of work on the big stack. Otherwise, it is so overwhelming. Just making sure you pull out the important papers – and the DO NOW items – can make it feel so much better. And I would love to do filing with you – miss you tons!

  2. Oh I love the treat at the end of a dreaded task! Yes, please! You are so right about what you’re wearing….I always feel better when dressed up just a bit – perhaps even lipstick :)

    1. annie kip says:

      Thanks – I agree about the lipstick! I wish I didn’t feel the need to wear make-up – somehow I think I should not care that much – but I have decided I don’t have to be perfect about this either. Wearing lipstick just makes me feel good!

  3. Deb White says:

    Great tips, Annie! I also like to have MUSIC on while I’m paying bills, cleaning anything (especially toilets!) — preferably DISCO, Swing or Unforgettable songs!

    1. annie kip says:

      Excellent suggestion! You go girl – you have not lost your Soul Train vibe! (for those of oyu who don’t know – Deb used to dance on Soul Train!!!!)

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