"It's in my to do pile"...

I have lots of clients and friends who assume that because they've thrown something in the to do pile that they'll a) remember it's there and b) get round to doing it. Invariably, their to do pile is on the side or the kitchen table along with the keys, the kids toys and the things they’ve already done. I'll be totally honest, this is not a good system- it's open to losing things, missing deadlines and worse to being tidied or thrown away. 

Just creating a pile is not enough- it's how you create that pile and what you do with it is the key to keeping on top of your paperwork.

Firstly, and most importantly, you should have a tray, or a box- somewhere paperwork can go that people will know it's not rubbish, where it can't get lost or put away. It's all safe and you know if it’s in the box/tray/place it needs doing.

However, as I said before that's not enough- keeping it doesn't mean you'll remember it. You need to have a system for making sure you deal with the various tasks and deadlines. My system is twofold: firstly, I write key deadlines (when the MOT is due, when my daughters milk money needs paying) in my diary on the date it's due and two days before just to make sure I'm getting things done in time; Secondly, I go through the pile once a week, I add urgent or near urgent tasks to my to do list and do anything that can be done quickly. 

On that note a very clever friend once gave me a great piece of advice- if it takes less than two minutes just do it. It's actually really valuable advice and you'd be surprised how much more you can knock off your list without getting overwhelmed. 

But back to the pile. So you've managed your pile on a weekly basis, and you are keeping on top of your tasks so the next bit is absolutely key…

When tasks are complete make sure you file the paperwork or the form away. Do not leave things sitting in the to do pile. Move it across to a filing pile if you like or throw it away but make sure you’ve moved it. Not only does it ensure you don’t duplicate tasks and keeps your pile current but a reducing pile of tasks is a good visual motivator.

With a bit of luck this way you’ll never miss things again!