Working backwards or going in stages can make a big job seem doable.
If you have a backlog of paper that you’re trying to get through—perhaps you’re weeding through many years worth of files—and you’re not sure where to begin, here are some strategies that can help you deal with the daunting task.
Start with the paper that is the most recent and work backwards. These are the papers that will typically require the more important and more timely actions to be taken. By the time you get to the oldest items, you’ll find that they’re usually pretty easy to go through. Because they may be outdated, they may no longer be relevant or the decisions that you will need to make about them are easier in light of the actions you’ve taken on more recent papers.
Take it in stages. Let’s say you have 10 file boxes that you need to get through. You might choose to work on one file box per week or one section of a file box per week. Define what you want to accomplish in a given time period and then focus on achieving just that. Once you have completed that section don’t worry about moving on to the next one as long as you’ve already scheduled time to work on it. You don’t need to overdo it, especially if you’re dealing with a giant backlog. Dealing with a large project can be daunting, so pace yourself and take the project in stages.