Management Articles


The Paper Blizzard

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore is a full-time Professional Speaker having made over 2,000 presentations during the last twenty years to audiences from around the world. He is the author of "Beat the Clock" and dozens of published articles. Learn more at:

Have you ever felt you were getting buried under a blizzard of paperwork? You should. Memos, junk mail, emails, letters, pamphlets, books, and faxes are coming at you at an ever-increasing rate. You get more information thrown at you in one day than your great-grandparents received in a lifetime.

The problem then is you may not be able to deal with it as it comes your way each day, so you handle some of it and the rest sits in a pile at your desk or workplace. The next day, you get some more paper, you deal with some of it and put the rest in the pile that you go through and do a few of the things that you did not do yesterday. The pile is now bigger. The third day, you repeat the process, dealing with some of the new paper, some of the paper from days before and maybe a deadline or two is slipping through the cracks. The mere site of all the paper creates stress for many.

Sound familiar?

“The best way to deal with a problem is to never have it.” A lot of the flow of paper to you can be eliminated by getting off memo distribution lists, mailing lists, and the like. Look at what comes your way and ask yourself if you really need to be receiving it and do what you can to stop getting any more of it in the future.

Here are three tips to help you tame the blizzard of paperwork. As you encounter each new piece of paper, do one of the following:
  1. Delegate it. Ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?” If it is, plan on handling it, but if not, try to figure out a way to delegate to another. There is a big difference between “I do it” and “It gets done”.

  2. If it’s quick, do it. If it can be done in a minute or two, do it then and be done with it. You can discharge twenty items in twenty minutes and be done with them.

  3. Schedule it. If it will take some time to complete, decide when you will get to it, put it on your to do list for that and then put it away.

© Copyright 2001 Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

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