Recently I wrote about 7 ways you could eliminate paper from your workspace, but many people like to keep some papers. When the concept of “paperless” began to surface, I decided that as an organizing and productivity consultant, I certainly should embrace it. Well, I tried! But like many other clients we’ve had through the years, I find some paper can truly be more productive.

Having said that, it’s important to remember Hemphill’s Principle: If you don’t know you have it, or you can’t find it, it is of no value to you!

So how can you make sure you can find the papers you want to keep when you need them? The answer depends on your situation and your style, of course. After all, productivity is an art form, but there are two tools that are extremely helpful.

1) A “tickler file” – called by other names such as “pending file,” or “43 folders.” To put it simply, it’s a series of folders – one for each month of the year, and one for each day of the month. It was a common tool in years past – my mother first showed it to me when I was 11 years old, and explained how the bank where she worked used it to make sure all the reports were filed on time.

Many years ago I was hired as a spokesperson by a company in PA who had designed a highly functional version of the 43 folders called SwiftFile™. I fell in love with the product and bought the company.

2) A “File Index” – a list of the names, with keywords, of your files. There are myriads of ways you can create such an index. When I first began doing it, I used a legal pad! Today we work with our clients to learn what software they might already be using on a regular basis and incorporate the index into that program. If they don't have existing software that would work, we share our absolute favorite #1 tool for creating a very simple "File Index".

A "File Index" is to a filing system what a “Chart of Accounts” is to an accounting system. The great news is that when you have a "File Index", your “Filing System” becomes a “Finding SYSTEM (Saving You Space Time Energy Money!).

To harness the power of these tools in your own office, we offer you the opportunity to join our Office Transformation Program at Here you will find details about this self-paced online program that includes 1:1 coaching with a Certified Productive Environment Specialist™. Review the information then click the link on the page to schedule a Productive Environment Gameplan™ session to see if it is a good fit for you. The ability to change your relationship with your paper files is in your hands right now! This could be the beginning of true freedom from the bondage of disorganization & overwhelm!

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at