Look Out – Papers Incoming

I’ve got the NAPO conference on my brain – from the three and a half days education in San Diego – to the state chapter meeting just four days after the end of the national conference.  I have absorbed some of the mass of information available and gathered even more, for when I can handle more!  This may not be a situation that happens regularly, yet it’s important to have ways to deal with it.

For last year’s national conference I printed out all these sheets – the map of the hotel and expo, the slides for the presentations I wanted to attend as well as some back up slide presentations in case I changed my mind. I took lots of notes in the workshops and gathered flyers from most, if not all, the companies exhibiting their products.  Lots of paper.  Within a month I had the business cards and flyers organized.  Those notes though, those are still sitting in the binder I took, waiting for my good intentions for organizing them.

This year I had my nifty iPad, so I decided to take a risk and load all the slide presentations and maps on that.  I took a small spiral notebook just on case I couldn’t make do with typing on the iPad.  I’m thrilled to say that using the iPad was a complete success.  I’m even more excited that I won’t need to worry about transcribing the notes – as they’re all electronically searchable and ready for me to use the information when I’m ready.

I took with me 2 empty document envelopes, like Peter Walsh’s,

Peter Walsh's Document Envelope

Peter Walsh's Document Envelope

and at the end of each day separated the flyers and various papers I’d accumulated into 2 piles.  One pile was for things that I want to follow up on in one way or another – companies I want to look at their websites, articles to read, or people to e-mail after conference.  The other pile was for things to save, but more for archiving – things I might want to refer to later but needed no action or attention in the short term.  Each pile went into one of the document wallets. I’ve begun the process of dealing with the small collection of papers that need action, and it’s easy since they’re all together.

With the small context of our local meeting, I simply made a list of the things I want to act on, separate from the notes gathered during the presentation.  I’ve figured out that taking notes electronically is ideal for me – no need to make time to transcribe notes, and I’ll keep them organized in my Evernote account where I can search and access them anytime.

Although this can be an ideal way of handling any information you get – making a separate list of action items – for me, the amount of information from the national conference was overwhelming and I wanted it to be simpler.  I’ve already started acting on the items, though I’ve certainly got more to do.  Yet now I’m ready to add them a to-do list, therefore simplifying things even more.

Papers are often the biggest struggle – despite the aim toward a paperless society, we continue to have a plethora a paper bombarding us.  I was excited to limit that some by not printing the handouts, yet I certainly brought a good amount of additional paper home.

Having a plan for what you want to do with those papers is important – figure out whether you want/need to take action and you need the physical papers to remind you or if you simply want to archive them for reference at a later point.  Or do you want to pass them along to someone else? What is the next thing you want to do with them?  This will help you deal with any papers coming into your life.

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