Paper Tiger Blog


The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Are you already organized or do you need to get organized before the busyness of the next couple of months go in full swing? Yes, it’s that time of year again, already! Time to get the house spruced up for the fall and winter holidays that you and your family recognize and celebrate. Fall and/or Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years! That’s a lot of decorating and celebration within just a couple of months. With the holiday season upon us, decorations are becoming an everyday sight. Are your decorations organized in 1 or 2 boxes or stuffed wherever you could find room last year? Is the Christmas tree in a box never to be found again in the attic? Do you dread wasting hours untangling lights?

It can be a chore when trying to locate where you have certain decorations stored when it seems some are in the garage, some are in the attic and some have made their way into the basement. Or you may have them all tangled together just to keep them all in one place. The problem is, this big tangled mess can cause damage to the seasonal décor you have stored. This may even make you so frustrated that you opt to forgo adding any holiday cheer to your home or lawn altogether.

According to IBISWorld, Americans spent 13.34 billion dollars on holiday decorations and costumes alone in 2010. Can you envision how much that number has grown since then? Year after year, we purchase more and more decorations in addition to the ones we already have. The countless ornaments and lights could take up a lot of space in your garage or attic and become quite pricey. But, what if there was a way to put the fun back in decorating AND save yourself from becoming another shopping statistic? What if you knew exactly which box your favorite set of Christmas candles were?

The important thing really is to use a filing system software like Paper Tiger to keep track of what you own, what you are storing and where it is being stored so that the items can be easily and quickly retrieved when you need them. You might have thought Paper Tiger was just for paper! But actually, you can index virtually any physical object into your Paper Tiger database. Indexing your items into Paper Tiger filing system will ensure that you know exactly where these things are, before you end up buying duplicates of something because you can’t find the original. Documenting or indexing your belongings also helps other people who may need to retrieve things for you. With a quick search in the software database, anyone will be able to find an item and also know where it should be placed when it needs to go back to the storage location.

Getting Organized Now For Your Holiday Decorations!

Now you can get organized with Paper Tiger Filing System Software and know where everything is with a simple search in the database. As the seasons and holidays change, so can your home, with less stress.

You can still win 1st prize in the Homeowner Association’s best-decorated home contest without buying new decorations each year, because you can find what you already have without a lot of stressful searching. Paper Tiger allows you to give each set of holiday decorations a home of its own.

Imagine if you found all the decorations you’ve purchased for each holiday, each year in one place. Imagine no more! Not only will all the decorations be right where you left them next holiday season neatly packed away, but also the combination of all the decorations will allow you to be really innovative when decorating next year. Maybe take the stockings you’ve accumulated over the years and form a mixed pattern above the fireplace. No fireplace? Use decorative ribbon as a bed for glass ornaments in a fruit bowl as a centerpiece in the dining room for a jovial meal. Before you run rampant with all the new decorating ideas, let’s organize the decorations you currently have.

-First check every nook and cranny of your house for decorations. Take your flashlight in the attic with you. Gather the decorations so that you can begin to sort them.
-Then, sort the decorations by their various holidays. Santa and his reindeer, the Thanksgiving harvest table kit and pastel plastic Easter eggs should all go in separate piles. If you don’t already have storage boxes or containers, grab a couple from your local retailer to organize your items. Depending on the amount of items you have, you might need at least 1 storage container for each holiday.

After you have all holiday decorations separated into the appropriate pile, add Paper Tiger to the equation. Choose a title for the Paper Tiger location to correlate to your physical storage for the decorations of each holiday. Maybe your decorations have trickled into four piles; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring. So name a ‘location’ in Paper Tiger to match each holiday that you are organizing. You can then create labels from Paper Tiger software with numbers for you to attach to each of these boxes. Type the keywords in Paper Tiger’s database to match the items you put into each box to help you easily find decorations later with a quick search in the database search engine. For example, we might not remember that we named the bin with “Fall Decorations” under “Thanksgiving”, but if we put “Thanksgiving” or “turkey” or “fall” in the search bar, Paper Tiger will search the database based on the keywords we’ve input previously, and let us know which box or boxes we need to pull out. Following are the fields in Paper Tiger as an example:

Location = Decorations

Item#1 Name = Thanksgiving Box 1
Keywords = Fall decorations, I’m thankful plate, thankful placemats, turkey napkin holders, pilgrim man and woman, small plastic pumpkins, candles, candle holders, Thanksgiving harvest table kit

Item#2 Name = Thanksgiving Box 2
Keywords = cornucopia basket, silk flowers, Fall door wreath

Item#3 Name = Thanksgiving Box 3
Keywords = Fall theme blankets and throw pillows

Item#4 Name = Christmas Box 1
Keywords = small tree

Item#5 Name = Christmas Box 2
Keywords = small tree decoration items, balls, bells, garland

Item#6 Name = Christmas Box 3
Keywords = large tree for living room

Item#7 Name = Christmas Box 4
Keywords = large tree decoration items, balls, bells, garland, bows, doves

It will take a little effort to get things in order to begin with, but once you invest this initial work into the project, your holiday decorating will be easy as can be for each occasion. With Paper Tiger Filing System Software, the decorations are stored and the disarray that once consumed and cluttered your space is replaced with the joys of the holiday season. Paper Tiger will help preserve the life of your decorations, because they will always be stored away neatly instead of mixed in with everything else in the top of a closet. Money will be saved because you’ll know what you have, and the efforts of searching for decorations will be swapped with a few strokes on a keyboard. Never worry about holiday decorations scattered throughout the house again, but know and embrace what you have and build upon it with creative new twists because you took the time to get organized.

If getting organized before the holidays is too much to think about now, make plans to get organized as you’re putting the decorations away!


I need a filing system

Based on a past American Express survey of small business owners, “getting organized” ranked among the top three priorities for new years resolution plans. Let’s face it, getting organized is one thing, but staying organized all throughout the year is another.

So if “getting organized” is such a priority for people, why do so many people struggle with this? We’re all flooded daily with information coming at us from many different directions. We save much of it because we believe we need it to do our jobs better or to respond to our customers more effectively or we might possibly need it again later. Having the information on hand is of little value, though, if you can’t find what you need when you need it. Getting organized and improving the functionality in how you work can start with Paper Tiger’s simple indexing system. Organizing information in such a way that can be found in seconds is liberating, and frees us to do other things.

The Internet has done wonders for improving our ability to find information. By doing a search of a few key words, we can instantly receive suggestions on where to find web sites containing the information we’re looking for. That’s fine if all you need is information from the Web. But what about the paper, books, articles, CDs and other information sources in your office that you’ve collected over the years? Wouldn’t it be great if you could find them as quickly as an Internet search engine can find web sites?

Actually you can! You can clear stacks of paper files and other clutter without worrying if you will ever find it again when you put it out of sight. Paper Tiger Filing System software is a great solution for managing information, and enables you to file and retrieve hard copy documents, books, CDs, and other items – literally anything that you can put a number on – by using key words. And because you have an index to search, you’ll be able to return the item where it belongs as quickly as you retrieve the item.

With traditional filing systems, you only have the one or two keywords on the file folder tab. But with Paper Tiger, you can input as many keywords as the file or item could be called or relates to, so you’re not limited to what fits on the tab.

As you create a new file, you simply type in one or more key words, (as many key words as you like), that come to mind regarding that file. The item number in your Paper Tiger database will match the number you place on the hanging file folder.  (Or book, CD, box, or other physical item you’re indexing.) When you want to find it again, type in any of the key words associated with that file in the search box, and within SECONDS, your search tells you exactly where the item is located. Very similar to a Google search, except this search is your own personal indexing system.

Items you want to track can be divided into several locations – or groups of similar things – such as Action (your current project files or most active reference files), Reference (your less active reference files), Archive (your seldom used reference files that you need to keep for legal or historical reasons), Books, Magazines, Videos, CDs – whatever items you choose to store together.

Since Paper Tiger doesn’t rely on filing alphabetically, new items are indexed into the first available open file folder. For example, you toss documents from one file folder, that file is open for the next new document or set of documents.

Once you’ve indexed all the information by item name and keywords that you’ve input relating to each file or physical item, you can easily search and find. That makes it feasible to keep archived records off-site, perhaps in a storage facility, yet still know what’s in each container at all times.

When files need to be moved to archives, it’s a simple matter of transferring the items in the database to the new ‘location’ and then moving the physical files to the archives location.

Everyone including new hires with access to your database can conduct a quick keyword search, retrieve and return items – no worry – no hassle. You don’t have to rely on one single person to know where everything is, because the system can do the remembering for everyone, which saves time and keeps your business running much more smoothly and efficiently. Of course, this can also be applied to your home and family, as well.

Paper Tiger can also generate a file index so you can print out a list of all your files by name and keywords. The printed back-up allows for quick reference when the computer isn’t on.

Whatever your motivation for getting organized – whether it’s to save time, eliminate clutter, increase productivity, or just find a better way to retrieve information – Paper Tiger Filing System software is a great tool. Get organized today, and you will truly notice the benefits.

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By now, you’ve probably heard the term ‘record retention policy’ or ‘document retention policy’. But do you have one? Or are you asking if you should have one? From our research, if you have any kind of business, (no matter the size or how many employees you have), you should definitely have a written policy for your document management and record keeping.

Many professions set their own legal guidelines for records retention, and you may have some unusual or extenuating circumstance in your life — so check with your accountant or attorney when creating a written policy for you and your business, as well as before pitching out any important legal, business, or financial paperwork when in doubt.

You might ask, “Why does it need to be written? I have a small business.” The simple fact that there are so many rules and regulations and requirements, from federal employment law, IRS, to state laws for different kinds of records, it is really hard to keep up with what you need to keep and for how long. Some records need to be kept permanently, and some only 3 years. Do you know what they are? It’s virtually impossible to remember, so do yourself a favor and create a written policy for the types of records you create, paper or electronic.

For individuals, it would be a good practice to have a written policy for maintaining record retention as well, because we all need to know what needs to be kept and for how long.

You’ll have a well-thought document to refer to and a methodical plan for maintaining your document management system.  You won’t have to rethink the ‘how long should I keep this file’ every year. You can actually feel good when it’s time for a year-end purge of your files, because you’ll know what can be tossed and when.

You don’t want to get rid of a document, then find out later you need it. On the other hand, if you don’t have to keep documents for legal or tax reasons, and if you don’t have a good reason for keeping it, get rid of it. When in doubt, ask yourself some basic questions about why you might keep the paper file:

  • Is the information relevant to my life, personal interests, or job?
  • Has this information become outdated? Can I find a more current document?
  • How easy would it be to replace this if I needed the information later?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of it?

Just as important, for the documents you need to keep, is knowing how to file it in a way that is organized, but makes it easy to retrieve in a moment when you need it again. The fear of losing something important can cause anxiety. The fear of putting documents in the file cabinet instead of out where you can see it, can also be paralyzing when it comes to filing. The problem with that is there are too many paper files to leave out, and everything gets buried as the stacks grow and you lose it anyway.

None of what you keep will do you any good if you can’t find what you need at the moment you need it. See Customize Your Filing System With Paper Tiger’s Indexing Method for help getting started with an organized system for easy paper file retrieval. You will most likely be able to locate electronic files needed with a search in your email system or on your desktop or in your cloud digital file storage system.

Guide to Creating a Document Retention Policy

There are several things you need to think about when creating a document retention policy. We’ve found a great Guide to Creating a Document Retention Policy (this guide will download to your downloads folder), from the National Federation of Independent Business, in which you will find what a document retention policy is and why you need one, as well as a step-by-step guide to creating your policy, including identifying what types of documents you produce that needs to be maintained, suggested retention timelines, and how documents should be destroyed when time limit has expired.

As stated, “A document retention policy (DRP) provides for the systematic review, retention, and destruction of documents received or created in the course of business. A DRP will identify documents that need to be maintained, contain guidelines for how long certain documents should be kept, and save your company valuable computer and physical storage space. In addition, a well-crafted DRP that is followed by your employees may assist your company in the event of litigation.” This is only a guide, so it is important that you identify the specific federal, state or local document retention provisions that apply specifically to your business and circumstances.

There is also a sample document retention policy from (this document will download to your downloads folder), that you might find helpful.

retention period

Make Sure Employees Know Your Retention Policy

You may have your employees help you create your document retention policy, or you may have assigned the job to a manager. Whether the job of creating and maintaining a records policy is yours personally or someone in your organization, it should be championed and taken seriously when developing. Then when you have a written policy completed and approved, be sure that all employees know what to do with the records they create. Inconsistency of records management and destruction can be portrayed by opposing counsel as selective or arbitrary destruction of documents and can lead to serious legal damage rewards. It is important that all employees understand and be consistent in following the policy.

Employees will need to know:

  • who the responsible manager of ensuring the retention policy is accountable, consistent across departments, and kept up to date for both paper records and digital records, emails, etc. Since retention policies are mainly necessary to reflect the legislative and regulatory requirements, a maintenance plan is important for keeping the policy up to date with changes in the law, as well as remain current with organizational, operational and technological changes in your company.
  • if there is a central location to file certain types of files,
  • when the records should be destroyed, tossed or recycled,
  • what types of documents need to be destroyed, and types that can simply be trashed or recycled,
  • what it means when they are notified to freeze destruction on certain types of files because of litigation,
  • create a system to remind employees when records are eligible to be destroyed, (this could be input in a calendar as an appointment, such as, on date 12/31/2017 “destroy credit card statements (and other records that only need to be kept for 3 years) from 2014.” Or maybe simply a calendar reminder to “check archives for files eligible to be destroyed.”
  • when files are boxed for archiving until the destruction date, make sure to label the box with the contents and the date in which the contents can be destroyed, (examples are shown in the images in this article). Archiving document types with the same destruction date together in one box will make it easier when the time comes.

For more information on record retention and document management, see our blog article:

Document Management – How Long Do I Have To Keep My Paper Files?

document management

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Getting organized to better manage what you keep is imperative, whether it be paper files, contents of binders, or what’s in the file room or boxes in the basement, so that retrieving an item in a timely manner is efficient. To be able to work more efficiently is simply less stressful!

Many companies have one or more administrative employees whose chief function is to manage company records, and is dependent on the person who knows the filing system. Thousands of hours are literally eaten up with filing and then trying to locate specific information at a later date because the system used for document management is so inefficient or outdated.

One of the chief reasons companies still suffer inefficient filing systems is that every employee is different. People have their own thoughts about what filing should be, and their own way of managing and naming their files. So you have a variety of different methods being used within one company. There has to be a better way to organize your filing cabinets into a uniform, logical style that is standardized throughout your business, regardless of the size company you have!

Some statistics say that about 7 percent of all documents are lost or misplaced and have to be reproduced. Experts estimate that about 150 hours of employee time per year are wasted trying to locate missing files or documents. And even more time and cost to recreate the necessary information! At $20 an hour on average—because all levels of employees are involved in this process—that can easily add up to $3,000 per year or more, that you can save simply by using file indexing, like Paper Tiger Filing System Software to manage your files more effectively and efficiently.

And no matter how many people have access to your file cabinet, maintaining an organized and efficient filing system can be accomplished. When you invest the time to index your hanging file folders into your Paper Tiger database, everyone given access will be able to conduct a Google-like search to find what they need quickly, and just as important, also be able to know exactly where it should be re-filed.

So you’re probably wondering, “How does an indexing system work to manage paper files?”

It’s quite simple really. With Paper Tiger, you allow employees the access they require, according to your own policies, to use the software. You and your staff need to agree on a records retention policy as a guideline for the types of paper files you retain, how you want records kept and how long certain files should be kept. This policy should also transfer to your digital files as well. We have several articles already on records retention guidelines that you can use to assist you.

Paper Tiger is a file indexing system for your paper files or other physical items that has a search engine built in so that lost information is virtually eliminated in your home or office. You can keep your paper in its original form, (you do not have to scan it), and index the paper files that you need to keep in hard copy format. You would simply type in the information into the database relating to your paper files, or other physical items, to get organized so that you can find what you need when you need it, without time-wasting searches. Company name, common subjects, or other descriptions can be typed into your Paper Tiger database. Whatever works for you. Use as many keywords as you like. Each employee that has access to the software can also add keywords that they relate to each document or set of relating files.

Paper Tiger software consists of the following levels:

  • Database which is a group of locations, categories and items.
  • Locations are made up of Item names, description, capacity and review frequency. Location could relate to where you will store your physical items or could relate to the types of physical items that you plan to index (paper files, books, CDs, DVDs, storage boxes, etc.) Your Locations can be named anything you want – however you relate to what you are indexing, i.e., Office files, Home files, Action files, Reference files, House, Basement, Garage, etc. Paper Tiger uses Locations to represent these places where you store the items you want to be able to find later. For example, your Reference files Location might contain an index of all files in your 5 file cabinets of 4 drawers each, and Item #1 in Paper Tiger starts with the documents in the first hanging file folder in file cabinet 1, and end with Item #500 in with all documents indexed from the last hanging file folder in file cabinet 5. Paper Tiger allows you to print cut-out tabs or Avery labels which you use to mark your physical items to match the index numbers assigned by Paper Tiger, i.e., Reference 1, Reference 2, Reference 3, etc. Each of these items correlating back to the Item Number in your Paper Tiger database.
  • Item Name is the descriptive name you input into your Paper Tiger database relating to a hanging folder or other item you are indexing. This Item Name might be what you would previously have input on the 2 inch tab of your hanging file folder. “Museum Board Directory” might be the Item Name you give a folder that contains a current phone and address list of museum board members. “Sales Reports” might be the Item Name you choose for a folder containing each regional sales report. A folder or Item Name labeled “Warranties” might include sub-files for “Electronics,” “Major Appliances,” and “Outdoor Equipment.” Your Item Name might also be the names of Books, CDs, DVDs, Collection Items, etc., within Locations under these. See also the Many Uses of The Paper Tiger. Note: multiple relating documents can be added to the same hanging folder. You do not need a different hanging folder for each piece of paper. Simply edit the existing item in Paper Tiger and add additional keywords as necessary when you’re adding a file.
  • Keywords: Type all keywords associated with the item, such as receipts or contracts or what the book is about, etc. When you need to find the item later, you can search by keyword. The more keywords you enter, the easier it will be to find the item later, simply because the name you think of today for the item, you might think it filed under a different name 6 months from now. After all, retrieval is the main goal when you file something away, right!? Sure you want to get the file off your desk, but you want your files organized in such a way that you can easily and quickly retrieve an item when it’s needed again.
  • Notes (optional): You can add additional comments in the Notes section if you wish. For example, you might add a note as to the next action you need to take for an item, such as follow up, or when you want to transfer to archives, or when you should shred, etc.
  • Category (optional): If the item falls into a category, tab to the Category field and type in or select a category you’ve already created from the drop-down box. Category is a word or words you may use to classify groups of related folders or items. For example, you may use the Category “Benefits” to classify the Folders, “401K,” “Stock Options,” and “Day Care.” The Category, “Services,” might include Folders for “Accountant,” “Graphic Artist,” and “Organizing Consultant.” The Category “Self-Help” might include all your books that relate to “self-help” or “motivation”.
  • Action Date (optional): If there is a future date in which you want to review this item, or if this item will require your action, tab to the Action Date field and type the date or click on the calendar to select a date. When you open or sign into Paper Tiger, you will be alerted that you have Reminders. You can also print an Action Date report for items in which you have set an action date.

When you’ve indexed your items into Paper Tiger, and you need to find something later, you simply conduct a Google-like search in Paper Tiger’s database to find where the item is located.

This solves problems with filing or finding any physical item, such as:

  • You can’t decide what to name something because it could be named so many different things;
  • You don’t like making new folders when you need to file; (Because the tabs are numbered, they never have to change. You can go ahead and input as many tabs as you want in a particular Location, and the file folders are ready for you to file.)
  • You can’t remember where or what name you filed something under previously;
  • Staff or family members sharing files or other items, everyone thinks differently and anyone can search a keyword;
  • Staff turnover or the one person that knows where everything is gets sick or is away for a time;
  • Organizing other physical items, such as contents of boxes so you don’t have to worry about being able to find items later;
  • Duplication of files are virtually eliminated. Documents relating to a topic already in file, can be placed in the same hanging file folder, and the item in Paper Tiger can be edited to add new keywords if necessary.

Life-Cycle File Management

It’s common knowledge that every document that comes into your office has to be managed in one of three ways.

  1. If no action required, it can be filed if needed for future reference, tax or legal reasons.
  2. It can be tossed or shredded, if not needed for future reference, tax or legal reasons.
  3. If action required, it can be dealt with immediately, can be delegated to someone or scheduled for future action.

The joy of indexing is that your filing cabinet now becomes your action file as well. You can create a file just for items that need action without forgetting where you put them, or failing to take action because you “forgot” about them. Then when you’re finished, you can move the file to an archive location or a more permanent file and leave an uncluttered desk ready for more important work. You can file it away and not have to worry about finding it later.

Once your projects are complete and files are no longer needed on a daily or weekly basis, they can easily be moved from your action file location to a reference file cabinet or archived in storage elsewhere. You can add, move, or delete items in your Paper Tiger database as needed to coincide with the action you’ve taken with the physical item, and a quick search in the database will tell you where they’re currently located, in case something needs to be retrieved later. Click here to see more information regarding how to manage Action Files.

In today’s society with constant Internet usage, video conferencing and urgent meetings are often called with little or no warning. Having an indexed file management system is ideal because you can quickly and easily retrieve every document in the office you need for an impromptu meeting or conference call. You’ll no longer be forced to make major decisions without having all the relevant information you need at hand. No more worrying about not being able to find a file because someone is out sick! Paper Tiger filing system software eliminates that problem.

Document indexing truly is efficient file management. It will save you time and money, and remember you’ll also be able to index other physical items such as office supplies, training manuals, books, CDs, DVDs, etc. Using Paper Tiger Filing System Software, you can index anything that you can put a number onto, (see Not Just For Filing Paper), so you can find anything anytime!

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Organization is a major issue that many people face in both their homes and offices. If you have a filing system in place and are filing your paper documents, but you still can’t find anything, you may be making one of following mistakes that keep you from being as productive and efficient as you could be. With Paper Tiger Filing System Software for Document Management, you can get organized quickly by indexing and filing the physical documents.

Keep in mind that being able to retrieve the files you need later is crucial. You will be rewarded with saving time and less stress for taking the time to index your paper files into Paper Tiger, because you’ll be able to find any file at the time you need it simply by searching the keyword that you input into the database previously. Paper Tiger’s flexible keyword indexing system frees users from dependence on others to locate files. So in an office environment, whether small or large business, you can avoid the dreaded disaster of not being able to find what you need when your staff takes vacation or is out of the office for other reasons.

Read on to find out what not to do when organizing your filing system.

  1. Not Filing – Not filing is a big mistake. Building ‘project stacks’ can get overwhelming, and messy! If you’re like most people, the projects keep coming, and if you don’t take time to file, the stacks will keep building. Also, using a ‘To File’ stack doesn’t work to your advantage if you hardly ever file. When it’s out of hand, it will take even longer to file than it should. Deal with what comes into your office on a regular basis. Make a decision to either toss/shred it, act on it, or file it. Experts tell us to take just 15 minutes at the end of every day to file away what needs to be filed.  You will have less clutter, and your desk will look more professional. You will feel better and more organized.
  2. Hoarding – Do you think you need to file EVERY piece of paper that comes in? According to experts, eighty percent of what we file, we never refer to again. Therefore, really think about how much you need to keep a document before filing it. Before filing ask yourself, “Why will I need to refer back to this?” Should I keep this for tax or legal reasons? If your answer to these questions are negative, shred or throw the paper away.
  3. Printing everything If you don’t really need a print copy, don’t print it. If you print it, you’ll most likely want to file it. Only file it if you can’t search to find it electronically later.
  4. Overstuffing/Not purging – Every once in a while, (at least annually), you need to go through your files and get rid of what you no longer need. An overstuffed file will only overwhelm and complicate your filing system, and can be costly if you need to purchase more file cabinet space. Overstuffed file cabinets will also deter you from filing, so your filing cabinets will begin to look as bad as your stacks of files. Read our article To Shred or Not to Shred to help you determine what you should or should not get rid of. Use Paper Tiger’s File Cleanout Report to help you decide what needs to be tossed or moved to an archive location.
  5. Using Paper Clips or Rubber Bands – Paper clips can leave a tangled mess of paper files when the clips catch on other files in the same folder, and they take up more room than necessary. Have you ever seen what happens to an old rubber band? Either the temperature, light or oxygen over time will cause the rubber band to break, essentially defeating it’s purpose! To keep papers together, staple them instead. If you have more papers in a related file than you can staple, consider using dividers such as manilla folders.
  6. Creating a miscellaneous file – This “to-do” file or random file should always be avoided if possible. As a matter of fact, this file is likely to be mostly trash anyway if you aren’t sure what to do with it or where to place it. You can always create a new file for some of these documents if you think you will have other related documents. Take the time to create a new file, or find a relating file to place the miscellaneous document in or trash it; simple as that. Refer to #2 above.
  7. Hanging file folder tabs – Placement of hanging file folder tabs can cause you to put off filing especially if you’re filing alphabetically and want your tabs to stay consistent in alignment. Depending on your preference for placing tabs on hanging file folders – 1 left-1 right or 5 tabs across – when you need to add a new file with alphabetical filing, you have to worry about adjusting tabs to stay consistent. However, when using Paper Tiger, this is not a concern because your hanging file folder tabs are numbered, starting with 1 for each ‘location‘ in the database you create, and these numbered tabs never change. Each numbered hanging file folder tab will correlate to the item number in your Paper Tiger database. When you need to move or trash a file, update your Paper Tiger database to reflect what you’re doing with that file, then that file folder and the correlating item number in Paper Tiger, becomes empty, ready for the next new document you need to file.
  8. Not using Paper Tiger – Are you having to open drawer after drawer because you can’t remember what name you’ve filed something under? You file something under a particular name one day, but then 2 weeks or 6 months later when you need to retrieve it, you might think you filed it under another name. With Paper Tiger, you never have to worry about what to name a file or creating a file name that is specific enough so everyone in the office can find it. The keyword section allows you to type in as many ‘file names’ as you think you might need to be able to conduct a keyword search and find the document again when you need it. Additional keywords can be added later, as well. See Customize Your Filing System With Paper Tiger’s Indexing Method for help getting started.

By avoiding these filing mistakes, you will be more organized and you will be able to more easily maintain your office. Your organizing system paired with Paper Tiger Filing System Software for Document Management will keep your files organized and help you quickly find exactly what you need.

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This Paper Tiger webinar hosted by Meggin McIntosh, “The Ph.D. of Productivity”™ and Paper Tiger Expert, will help you better understand Paper Tiger Filing System Software for document management to be able to use the software more effectively and see how you can get organized in every area of your life — not just paper filing! Meggin does an awesome job in showing you pictures of all of the different things she has organized and relating those items back to what she has indexed in Paper Tiger. Watch to learning more about the way Meggin has been able to file & find paper files, notebooks, boxes, etc. for over 13 years.

“The Ph.D. of Productivity”™

Are any of these the reasons why you have some files sitting around?

1. Not sure what to name the file (Car Insurance; Insurance – Car; Insurance – Automobile; Honda Car Insurance – Allstate).

2. Not sure what category it belongs in and whether it should be in a colored folder – and what color that should be.

3. Not sure whether the material in the file should be cross-referenced somehow with other files.

4. Not sure how to be reminded of where this file is when you need it – especially if it has a time commitment related to it.

5. And, hmmm, you’re not sure if this should even be filed at all?

Meggin has some solutions for paper management and getting organized in this webinar. Watch now:

Click here to download Paper Tiger Handouts by Meggin McIntosh mentioned in Meggin’s webinar.

P.S.  Readers of the Top Ten Productivity Tips ( & Keeping Chaos at Bay ( have been asking Meggin for years to teach this class.

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About Meggin McIntosh

Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., “The Ph.D. of Productivity”(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh supports smart people who want to be more productive so that they can consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.

Emphasis on Excellence, Inc.

Phone: 775.853.5510

MEGGIN’S WEBSITES (Primary site)


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Do you have trouble managing a home office? Add the kids and their activities, along with your busy schedule, and the managing with efficiency gets more difficult. Things get left undone, and the piles of paperwork, mail, magazines, kids’ artwork, not to mention all the stuff totally unrelated that finds a place on your desk you haven’t taken time to put away.

Whether you work from home or your home office is a place where you pay the bills, read the mail and file paperwork, you should be able to actually work from your desk. Your desk should not be a landing pad for everything that can be put away later. Stop procrastinating and make the decisions necessary to keep your desk looking good and a place where you can actually work. Of course, tips such as the ones listed below could relate to any area of your home that collects clutter.

You know what you have to do, but without scheduling time and a concentrated effort, the job will not get done. So take a look at what piles up on your desk. Is it just mail and magazines that are piling up? Or are there CDs, books, kids’ artwork, tools that need to be put away, office supplies, and other trinkets?

Have a family meeting to discuss what needs to go and what needs to stay. Whatever is on your desk that should not be there, create a ‘home’ for each type of item that would be best kept elsewhere so they don’t land back on your desk. You simply have to take the time to decide what you need to do with the problem area, what is your vision for the area, create a plan of action, clean and organize, and then maintain it.

  • Sort through the piles and gather similar items together so you can determine the right kind of container ‘home’ for organizing these items. Where should these items be kept and what containers would work best for accessibility? Everyone should agree on the container ‘homes’ so it will be convenient and efficient to maintain your office organization.
  • Would a CD binder help to keep CDs or DVDs together? You can place the CD/DVD in a binder such as the one pictured below. As you can see, the item number was written with permanent marker on the DVD and on the DVD binder slot. So the DVD numbered 45, would match what was indexed in Paper Tiger’s item number 45 for the DVD Location (DVD 45). Everyone will know where it should be returned as well. Then index the name, author, and other pertinent information into the item’s keyword section in your Paper Tiger database. Then when you want to pull a specific DVD, a quick search in the database will reveal where it is.

  • Do you have USB drives that you’re trying to keep up with? If you just have a few, maybe a small box or divider in your desk drawer would work. However if you have more than 5 USB drives and growing, how about a key cabinet or portable key storage cassette such as one of these at Number your USB drives. Then inventory the file contents in your Paper Tiger database, or take a screen shot of the file list on your USB, then print, write the number of the correlating USB drive on the printed screen shot and put the print in a hanging file folder.

  • Do you let magazines pile up? Think about what would work better for you. Maybe a magazine organizer like these pictured below would help keep your magazines together, but only keep what you really want to keep. Or maybe after you’ve gone through the magazine, cut out only the articles you want to refer to again, then trash or recycle the rest of the magazine. You’ll need a place to file the articles you keep. Depending on the volume, you could have one hanging file folder to hold the articles. Note, the magazine organizers can also double as a home for directories or manuals. These can also be used for some office supplies such as manilla folders, notebooks, assorted envelopes.

  • For kids’ artwork, allow your child(ren) to choose the artwork that should be kept. Consider framing the best, and put the rest of the keepers in a portfolio, one for each child. Framing can be as simple as the image at top of this page or in a photo frame room divider such as in the image below. Remember, you don’t have to keep every paper or artwork your child produces. You can always take a picture of the art that you won’t keep so you will have a digital image of the ones you’ll throw away. Getting the kids involved in choosing, creating and updating their schoolwork/art portfolio will empower them to manage their own paperwork, as well as which artwork gets switched out as they grow older.

Click here to see an example of how to organize kid’s artwork in this video by Sherry Borsheim of Simply Productive in which she describes how artwork and awards can be filed in a file tote bin, from preschool through grade 12. Sherry says, ‘By the time they graduate, you will have created an organized, preserved, collection of your kids artwork.’

  • Now, what about the stacks of paper files? Sort through the stacks and throw away the junk. If it’s not worth filing, don’t keep it! Keep in mind to adher to legal and tax retention guidelines. (Have you created a records retention policy for your home and business files? If not, click here to learn more about Retention Guidelines: How Long Should You Keep Records?) Shred sensitive information. Using Paper Tiger Filing System software will help you keep track of the paper files you decide to keep, but do not require action. Click here to see examples and managing of Reference Files. For things that need action, either do it now or place a note on it that outlines what action needs to be taken and by what deadline. Click here to see how to manage Action Files. Get the kids involved if there is a lot of shredding to do, especially in your initial file clean out.
  • Discuss with your family how to handle the mail when it comes in. Plan to take 5-10 minutes every day to go through the mail. Quickly scan through the sales papers and ads if you want to, then throw them away. Place your bills in the place you’ve designated for your bill reminder. Do you have a folder for bills or are you using a tickler file system? If you don’t have time to read the mail that needs to be read, place in a ‘to read’ file. If it is time sensitive, consider a tickler file system referenced above in the Action Files article.

How will you all work together to maintain the space? Once you have a ‘home’ for everything, and everything in its place, everyone needs to continue to do what you’ve agreed to so the area doesn’t get cluttered again. A simple reminder, ‘Whoa, that doesn’t go there! It has a home!’, will keep everyone on task, and you’ll be creating good habits that benefit everyone. Then have everyone take a few minutes a day or once a week, to work together to clear any clutter, rethink something that isn’t working as well as you thought and reorganize for more efficiency. It will be so much easier, take less time, and you’ll have more time to spend together doing the fun stuff with less stress!


Yes, it’s almost time for back to school. Teachers are making preparations and gathering everything they need to get started. And parents are already shopping for school clothes and school supplies.

There are lots of things to do and think about when preparing for back to school. Preparation and making sure you have everything needed can cause some anxiety, and then to think about keeping it all organized is another issue altogether. You will want to have a place for everything and an organized system for keeping track of those things.

Organization is helpful in any situation, and getting organized is even more important when adding school schedule and activities to help keep sanity and manage the stress level to a minimum. If you can instill a system of organization in your children and follow the same plan yourself, then you won’t feel completely overwhelmed. Creating a place for all school items will help teach children to get in the habit of getting and staying organized, and they will see how much easier life can be when they are organized and plan ahead.

Following are some great recommendations from Sherry Borsheim of Simply Productive and a Paper Tiger Expert for organizing kids. See if some of these will help you.

There’s sports schedules and phone lists, papers to sign, health records, music books, report cards, and precious keepsakes that tend to pile up around the house.

Then there’s the sports equipment, jackets, shoes, backpacks, lunch containers, homework, projects, and electronics that your children drop at the door when they come home from school or other activity each day. Times this by three to five kids and you’ve got a giant heap sitting on the floor on a daily bases.

  • The key to keeping your sanity and peace of mind is to create a place for them to easily hang their coat and backpacks. I love the storage locker system if you can create space for this in your home.
  • Create a homework area and have all the necessary supplies handy for their projects as well.
  • Then gather all the sports equipment and store each child’s items in separate bins, for each sport, including sports clothes after they are cleaned. Store bulky equipment that won’t fit in a bin in a one area. If they play soccer and baseball, then have a small clear container for each sport and make sure to label the bins “Soccer Clothes” and “Baseball Clothes.” When you’re rushing out the door to soccer, the right socks and shorts will be in one place verses all over the bedroom or house. You’ll know exactly where these items go because they have their ‘own place’.
  • Next create a Family Reference Binder with tabs for each child. Behind each child’s tab you can file their sports schedules, music schedule and any other important phone numbers that you want to have at your fingertips! Everyone in the family will thank you for gathering all the papers and putting them in one central location! (You can do the same thing with hanging file folders if you’d rather have these in a file drawer instead of a binder.)
  • Now to deal with all the other papers. In a filing cabinet, create a hanging file for each child and keep any awards, report cards and other keepsakes in this file for the current school year. At the end of the school year, simply take out the papers and file into their keepsake box. For larger artwork, just take a picture and store the photo in their school photo album. Or store large artwork in an art portfolio. Be realistic about what school papers and artwork you are going to keep. The more stuff you have, the more time and space it will take to store it. A good rule of thumb is to “keep the best of the best and let the rest go”. Ask yourself, when was the last time you looked at your keepsake box stored in your attic?

Paper Tiger Can Help with Back to School Organizing

After you’ve decided what paper files need to be kept, then index the keepers into your Paper Tiger Filing System database. When you need to retrieve an old project paper, you can search the database and you’ll know exactly which hanging file it was placed in. Also, each child could have one file for archives that should be kept and one file for stuff that can be tossed out when it’s no longer needed, to avoid having to sort through the files on a regular basis.

An example Location in Paper Tiger’s database for each child might be:

Location Name: Susie’s School Files
Item Name: Health records (with necessary keywords)
Item Name: Report cards
Item Name: Awards
Item Name: English (with keywords for any projects and when they are due, along with keywords for other paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: Math (with keywords for any projects and when they are due, along with keywords for other paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: History (with keywords for any projects and when they are due, along with keywords for other paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: Archives (with keywords for all paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: To Be Tossed (set a date to toss these paper files, which could be at the end of the school year)

For any of the files or artwork that you’d like to box up for storage after the school year has ended, simply transfer the items in your Paper Tiger database to track where you’ve moved them. For example, you will most likely want to keep Health records and Report cards for all school years together, but move the other items specific to a school year out of your file drawer.

Maybe you have a file box or bin in the attic or basement where you keep “the best of the best” in storage, so you’ll create a ‘location’ in Paper Tiger for Susie’s Archives. Print out labels for the hanging file folders in Susie’s Archives. In your Paper Tiger database, you’ll select the items you want to move, such as Awards and Archives, then conduct a Transfer, Duplicate or Move function for these files to be transferred to Susie’s Archives. Then you’ll physically move the files for the school year just ended from your file drawer to the correlating file folders in the designated file box or bin in storage, leaving the hanging file folders in the original location in your file drawer.

  • Note, if you duplicate these items in the database, the original item names will remain in tact for the next school year, and you can edit or delete any keywords for the next school year for those items.
  • Or, if you conduct the move function for the items in the database, then you can simply add new items as necessary for the next school year.
  • Or, if there is only a few files that you want to combine into one hanging file folder in the archives location, you can 1) create an item for the school year 2014-2015 in Susie’s Archives location, then select the items to be moved, then Transfer, Merge those items into the new item for the respective school year. In this case, you’ll physically move the files from their separate original hanging file folders and place them in the one hanging file folder for 2014-2015.

For English, Math, History, and To Be Tossed, these can most likely be tossed out at the end of the school year. Simply delete or edit the keywords for each of these items as necessary.

Setting up Paper Tiger Filing System now will help you to eliminate clutter and get organized. If you decide early where everything should be kept, what you will do with the ‘keepers’ at the end of each school year, and maintaining the system of organization, each school year will be less stressful.

Of course, Paper Tiger is not just for your child’s school files, and it’s not just for filing papers. Anything that you can put a number onto can be indexed in Paper Tiger Filing System so that when you need something, you can conduct a search for the keyword relating to the item and find it quickly, as well as where to return the item when you need to put it away. You can live organized with peace of mind because you have a place for everything, and have implemented an organizing system that helps you find what you need, when you need it!

Click here to find more helpful tips for organization is key when going back to school.

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Do you feel like you are the only person that has clutter and don’t have any idea what to do about it? Well, you’re not alone!

If you Google-search ‘statistics on clutter’, you’ll see there are enough stats to fill up this page, but here are a few to note:

  • The average American receives 49,060 pieces of mail in their lifetime; 1/3 of it is junk mail.
    - National Association of Professional Organizers
  • 80% of papers and information that we file or keep, we never use or look at again.
    - Agency Sales Magazine
  • In the top 10 list of management wasters for the past 20 years is managing paper.
  • According to management engineers, misfiled documents cost between $61-122 to be retrieved. The cost is calculated by the value of the person looking for the file, the person interrupted to find the file, the space the file occupies, and the cost to recreate the file if it cannot be retrieved.
  • Americans waste 9 million hours per day searching for misplaced items.
    - American Demographics Society
  • The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information in messy desks and files. For an employee earning $60,000, that lost time costs the company a staggering $6,290.
    - The Wall Street Journal/Esselte Study
  • Office workers waste an average of 40% of their workday. Not because they aren’t smart, but because they were never taught organizing skills to cope with the increasing workloads and demands.
    - Wall Street Journal
  • The average desk worker has 36 hours of work on his or her desk and spends 3 hours per week sorting piles trying to find the project to work on next.
    - Richard Swenson, The Overload Syndrome, (NavPress, 1998)
  • Using the correct organizational tools can improve time management by 38%.
    - Mobile Technology Products
  • Unnecessary expenditures related to disorganization (last minute shopping at premium prices, buying duplicates of misplaced items, rush charges, late fees, finance charges, etc.) can cost as much as 15% to 20% of your annual budget.
  • 80% of the clutter in most homes is a result of disorganization, not lack of space.
  • 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside due to clutter and 32% only have room for one vehicle.
    – U.S. Department of Energy
  • Cleaning professionals say that getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in an average home.
    – National Soap and Detergent Association
  • A UCLA study confirms the direct correlation between a woman’s cortisol (stress) levels and the density of household objects.

With statistics like these, obviously you are not alone. Also obvious is the negative impact that clutter has in our lives. Knowing that productivity, budget, time and health are all affected, it is still overwhelming to think about how to declutter your world. So how do we fight the war against clutter?

Steps to Clear the Clutter

Vision for end result: You may only have one room that collects clutter. You know, the proverbial ‘junk room’. Or clutter may be only on your desk or in every room. Whatever your individual situation, you need a vision as to what you want. Some experts suggest taking photos of every room in your home to see a different perspective. It may be there are items cluttering a space that you are overlooking everyday. While you’re thinking about it, also think about why you want it. Sometimes it is not enough to see and feel the pain point in your life in order to do something about it, but when you can have a vision for how it could be better and why or how it would make you feel if it were better, then you will have a better chance of getting started with the determination to get it done.

Prioritize: Don’t feel like you have to clear all the clutter in one day! Remember, the clutter in your life and the habits that got it that way didn’t happen overnight. Make a list of each room or area in the order in which you want to get organized. Decide what area is stressing you the most, and start there. Then schedule time on your calendar, allotting the amount of time you want to spend for each room. Some areas, like the garage, might take more than a couple of hours in one day, so schedule a couple of hours in two different days. It might even be helpful to create a plan of action for an area that is too overwhelming – making a list of what items you want to organize first, then second, etc., in an area so that it won’t seem quite so overwhelming.

Goal/project management & schedule: Set your goal and schedule your time. How many times have you thought, ‘I really need to clean out the garage, but it will take so long, and I have to do this and that, before I tackle that huge job’, and it just never gets done? It may help you to break down a big project into individual steps. For example, schedule an hour to sort through and organize the sports equipment on one day, then on another day, take an hour to sort through and organize the tools. You probably set goals for your business life all the time. It’s the same concept with things you need to do to get organized. Creating new habits and a new perspective need reminders to stay on course. So really, actually put the different project times on your calendar just like any other event in your life.

Willpower for action: Once you have your projects scheduled, make a commitment to yourself that you will stick to it until your vision comes to fruition. You may need help along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may need to reschedule a project, because life happens, but make sure to reschedule it on your calendar.

  1. Take one room at a time.
  2. Envision how you want the end result.
  3. Make a list of individual steps to break down the project(s) so you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
  4. Decide how much time each step will take and put it on your calendar so you’ll have a reminder and you can stay on schedule.
  5. Determine what needs sorted, organized, boxed, given away, trashed, and filed. Remember, sometimes simply organizing what you have is not the answer. Sometimes you should decide to get rid of stuff. Refer back to the stats above!
  6. Decide what you would like to keep in the home or office, what you would like to box up and keep either in the basement, attic, a rented storage unit or some other type of storage space.
  7. Implement Paper Tiger. For each container, whether it be a box or hanging file folders in your desk drawers or filing cabinets, index or catalog each item by typing in item name and keywords into your Paper Tiger filing system database, including where the item will be stored. Any changes or moves you make to your physical items can also be adjusted or ‘transferred’ in your filing system database, and you’ll always be able to track your items.
  8. After each room in your home is organized, go through the same steps for your office envisioning your desired end result. Make a list of steps, how long it should take, and schedule the time on your calendar. You might start with the top of your desk. Find a ‘home’ for everything – the right place on your desk for each item that will help you work more efficiently. Take one stack of paper files at a time, and then one drawer at a time, indexing the items in your hanging file folders into Paper Tiger’s database as you go.
  9. If you get discouraged, go back to your vision. Remember why clearing the clutter will help you to feel less stressed, will save you time, will help you to be more productive….whatever your reason, remember your vision for the end result. Re-prioritize if necessary, and set a new goal, but get recharged and make it happen.
  10. Maintain! Take 5 minutes to go through the mail, and trash the junk, file what needs to be filed, and put items that need your action and bills to pay in your action or tickler file system. Take 15-30 minutes every day to walk through your home or office and put things away so clutter doesn’t build again.

How Implementing Paper Tiger Helps When Clearing Clutter

There are all those paper files, mail to go through, magazines, books, training binders, DVDs and video games to straighten up. When you remember that book you wanted to read while on vacation, it takes more time than it’s worth to find it! There are seasonal clothes to move to and from storage, if you can remember which bin in the basement that you’ve put them. You also have that treasured collection, some to showcase and some to store for safekeeping. And of course, the garage!

The good news is that you no longer have to procrastinate. By implementing Paper Tiger Online filing system software, you can now clear the clutter and feel confident to put things in their own place. Paper Tiger enables you to index physical items, and makes it easy to keep track of things. It will be so worth the time invested to clear clutter and get organized, because you won’t be wasting time searching for needed items. You’ll be able to find them again when you need them…in a matter of seconds with a quick search in the database.

If you had a folder for your car repairs and needed to refer to it, could you be certain you could find it when you needed it? Would you remember if you titled it car, auto, Honda or repairs? Did you actually get it filed or is it in that huge stack ‘to be filed’?

By implementing Paper Tiger filing system, you can type in all of those keywords and be able to find anything with a quick search in the database. The traditional alphabetical system has obviously worked, as long as you could recall the name you filed it under previously, that is – so maybe not as efficient as it could be. Using Paper Tiger Online filing system software takes all the confusion out of the equation, even if more than one person is using the system.

Paper Tiger can be used for paper files, but also for many other physical items. Anything that you can put a number onto, you can index with your filing system software. This is especially important for items that may be kept in more than one location. So, for example, if you are going to keep some collectible items on display and want to store some in your basement and others at a rented storage unit, this helps you recall which items ended up where. Each box would have an item number in your Paper Tiger database, and the contents of the box should be typed into the keywords section. All those items you keep cluttered in your home because you’re afraid if you put them away, you won’t remember where you put them, can now be stored somewhere else. When you need to retrieve an item, search your Paper Tiger database, and you’ll know where it is and what box number in seconds.

Go ahead, get started with the steps outlined above to clear the clutter. Before you know it, you’ll feel more organized and accomplished, and less stressed. You can live organized with peace of mind because you have a place for everything, you know where everything is, as well as where it goes when you need to put it back in its place. Clearing clutter will free up so much space and you can have your home and office back!

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We all know that clutter can get in the way of success, peace of mind and happiness. Whether you can get it done yourself, with family members, or with an expert, getting organized and getting rid of clutter, can be accomplished.

What To Do With Paper FilesHave you lost the ability to be creative? Are you tired of losing important records? Is a growing list of demands getting the better of you, or those around you? Are you ready for a change and want to break the cycle? You are not alone in your challenge to keep clutter and overwhelm from draining you of time and energy.

If you are seeking some calm in your life and work, have piles of paper that need to be organized effectively, or even if you have some big projects you want help getting launched, professional organizing and productivity experts can help. You can have an effective work space and home you love.

Recognizing the Problem

The experts we know often say there is a direct correlation between stress and clutter.  Recognizing that clutter is significant in the way you feel about your home and office can be a great start to your feeling less stressed and overwhelmed. Psychology Today has a great article you might find helpful, “Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies”.

In WebMD’s article, “Clutter Control: Is Too Much ‘Stuff’ Draining You?”, it states, ‘Professional organizers who are called to cluttered homes and offices say their clients use the same words, over and over, to describe their reaction to the mess: their energy is drained, they can’t find things, and it’s beginning to interfere with crucial parts of life — such as getting to work on time or navigating staircases.

‘They become overwhelmed, nonfunctional and nonproductive…’, says Lynne Gilberg, a professional organizer in West Los Angeles, CA.

The key is to start small: Tackle one room or even one bookshelf at a time. Cleaning the clutter from drawers? “Don’t dump the whole drawer,” says Gilberg, “it’s too overwhelming.” Instead, take out items that can be thrown away, then things you can donate.’

Make Decisions and Take Action

Clutter happens because you’re not making decisions when you need to. You’re putting off or procrastinating because you don’t want to deal with it. If you really want to have less clutter, make the necessary decisions. Decide to decide what needs focus, what can go, what should be kept. Take one room at a time or one section of a room.

  1. What is your vision for the area? What is your goal for this space? Write your vision down for the area you want to focus on first, and make a list of things needed to accomplish that goal.
  2. Once you’ve made that determination, you can decide what needs to be cleared from that space, and where the items need to go….either in the trash, donated, recycled, or put away in a better storage area.
  3. Finish one area, then move to the next area on your list.

Don’t de-clutter alone. Get your family involved. Chances are, it is the family habits that need to be rethought. It’s most likely not just one person that causes all of the clutter.

When you’ve cleared the clutter, you’ll need to switch to maintenance mode to ensure the pile up doesn’t happen again. When there is a place for everything and everything in its place, then it will be easier to maintain.

Are You Afraid of Putting Things Away?

If you have clutter because you think you need a visual reminder…if you put it away, you’ll forget about it or where you put it, then Paper Tiger can help. You can index anything in Paper Tiger that you can put a number onto. See our article Work SMART! Getting Organized Doesn’t Have to be Hard! for helpful steps to sort, make decisions, file papers, and index other things you can organize and put away, so that not only is clutter no longer a problem, but finding things you put away is no longer a problem.

You, your family, and your staff, can work less, earn more and be more productive. Get started today with just one area. If you need help, ask one of the productivity experts that can also help you implement Paper Tiger so you can clear clutter, and be able to find things quickly.

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Getting organized saves time

It’s no secret that there are multiple reasons we choose to get organized. More often than not, we connect being organized with being successful. The truth is, however, that one of the greatest benefits of being organized is time management.


Benjamin Franklin said,

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”


If you’re constantly searching for things, you are wasting time and energy. When you are organized, you’re more efficient and productive, which in turn helps you to:

-Save time

-Be more focused

-Be less stressed

-Appear more professional

-Able to meet deadlines

-Advance your business or career

-Have more free time

Of course, good time management is important both professionally and personally. It helps us accomplish what we need to do by the end of the day in order to begin the next day fresh and new. Above all, it enables us to have more free time to spend with our friends and family.

How Does Paper Tiger Help with Time Management?

Experts tell us the average person wastes 150 hours every year looking for lost information. Without an organized filing system in place, you can’t accomplish what you need to in a timely manner.

Using Paper Tiger Filing System software helps you with time management because you can always find what you need with little or no effort. This indexing system can be used to organize almost anything that is composed of multiple items, because anything that you can put a number onto, you can index into Paper Tiger. For example, you can use Paper Tiger to organize:

-Work documents, paper files, hanging file folders


-Bills and expenses

-Family medical records

Of course, it is not just for paper filing and document management:

Paper Tiger can also help you organize and inventory:

-Sports memorabilia or other treasured collections

-Holiday decorations

-Book collections

-DVDs, CDs

-Contents of storage bins, boxes

These are just a few examples to give an idea of the wide variety of things Paper Tiger can help you organize. The possibilities are endless, and the potential to get organized will be so beneficial.

Paper Tiger Filing System software can save you time and help you to be more efficient. Implementing and maintaining Paper Tiger’s database for everything you need to organize becomes the ultimate time management tool. You can stop wasting time searching for the things you need because you’ll be able to find what you need, when you need it.

Go ahead, implement Paper Tiger today! You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much time you will save and how much more productive you’ll be.

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Create a Paper Tiger Online account in 60 seconds and

change the way you manage paper forever!

Click here to see how Paper Tiger works in this video.

Click here to view a short getting started video.

To view tutorials for the concept of Paper Tiger and additional training for the desktop version of Paper Tiger, go to other Tutorials and Training.

Click here to view additional pre-recorded webinars.

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Does organizing your filing system seem overwhelming? Are you thinking that converting your files to Paper Tiger filing system is just not worth it? Do you have an office full of stacks and stacks of paper to be filed and lots of file drawers to convert? Maybe the better question is, do you have trouble finding what you need, when you need it? Do you look in several hanging file folders when you need to find a file because you can’t remember the name you filed it under? Every time you have to do this, you’re wasting time. The time it takes to convert your piles and files is justified!

Retrieval is the main goal of a filing system. Paper Tiger is not just a filing system, it’s a ‘finding system’, so as long as you put in a few keywords for each hanging file folder, you will be able to find anything you need…and when you need it without time-wasting searches. A simple search in the database for whatever keyword you’re thinking of that day, will help you find the file quickly. 

There is an initial investment of time to set up your new file system with Paper Tiger, but when you consider that the average person wastes 150 hours per year looking for lost and misplaced papers, even if it took two (8 hour) days to convert … that would be 16 hours vs. 150 hours. Therefore the time spent is well worth it because you will be so much more productive for years to come.

Click here to calculate your cost of being unorganized and estimate your return on investment.

Paper Tiger actually makes filing easier and quicker, because you set up the empty hanging files prior to filing, (a hanging file labeled with a number can be labeled ahead of time), so they are waiting in the file drawer to receive your paper files. When you’re ready to file, you don’t have to search for a hanging folder nor do you have to create a printed label at the time you create a new file.

Make a Plan and Stick To It

Decide how much time you can devote to converting your filing system each day or week, and plan for it. Block the time on your calendar as if it were an appointment. Listed below are some plans of action for converting your filing system to Paper Tiger:

  • Block off a couple of workdays (or long working sessions) and get it over with. Plan ahead and make sure that you have an assistant; anyone who can type to enter data as you relay to them, will make the file conversion go much more quickly. Go ahead and create the Locations in your Paper Tiger database, print out the labels/tabs, and input the numbered tabs into your hanging folders (files you already have set up in your desk drawers and file cabinets, and new hanging folders for new files.) You tell your assistant which words to enter into the database for Item Name, Keywords, and Category, as well as other pertinent information for each file starting with #1 and forward. Then, you can write the Item Number onto the papers, and put the papers into the correlating numbered file.  This will also be a good time to decide file retention for each file and use the Action Date section to remind you to archive or trash after a predetermined amount of time.
    • Converting will be more difficult without an assistant, but it can be done. Also, you don’t have to add keywords for every piece of paper in a file if the file name contains the only word(s) you would ever look up to find it. (ex: invoices)
    • We suggest starting with the papers on your desk. Make a decision for every piece of paper.
    • Throw away what you can do without (if you can toss all the paper in your life and find it later on the Internet or get it from someone else, recycle!)
    • Does the paper require Action? If so, this becomes an action file. Decide what you need to do, either delegate, do it now, or schedule to do it later and file appropriately. Use the handy Action tabs that come with your shipment or printed from Paper Tiger to help you decide how to file Action items! You may also want to set up a daily and/or monthly follow up system to help you with dated items, which you should check daily. Or if it is project related, you might want to index the file into Paper Tiger to give it a temporary home. Click here to read more about Paper Tiger Action Files.
    • If you want to keep for later reference and it doesn’t require action, place in a stack to file (or tray labeled ‘To File’). These files that you will need to keep can be input in a Reference Location or you may decide to create a different Location to group like files together, such as Clients, Leases, Renewals, etc. Click here to read more about Paper Tiger Reference Files.
    • Remember statistically, 80% of our existing files are never referenced again, so as you are going through each file, and you know you haven’t referenced a file for several months (and probably won’t again,) decide if you can toss it or if it needs to be archived.
      • If a file needs to be archived, you can create a location called Archive within Paper Tiger,
      • Print out the labels/tabs for your new Location to insert into the hanging file folder tabs,
      • Type in the file item name and keywords in that Archive location in Paper Tiger,
      • Then pull out the file to be moved to wherever your archived files are located. The hanging file tab numbers will correlate to the item number in Paper Tiger.
    • Decide on the most important sections of your files and convert them immediately.
    • Continue through your desk drawers. If you’ve already input the numbered tabs in your hanging folders, you’re ready to type into Paper Tiger the item name and keywords for each file.
    • Go to your file cabinets next, one drawer at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be done!

Note: If your hanging file folder has several items that you want to include into one Item Name in Paper Tiger, you would simply add keywords for all document items into the Keyword section of the same Item Name. In addition, you may want to separate the physical documents in the hanging file folder with manilla folders. In this case, you might also want to number the manilla folders and include the number that you input on the manilla folder with the coinciding keywords in the Keyword section.

  • If blocking off complete days will not work for you, commit to working on a certain number of files per day. So if you had 150 files to convert and you said you would do 10 a day, in 15 days you would have it done. If you do this, you need to schedule the time in your calendar to do the conversion and then be disciplined about keeping these appointments with yourself. Otherwise your ‘To File’ stack will get out of hand again!
  • Or commit to a couple of hours a week or 1 drawer a day until the rest is done…whatever works for you.

Do a combination of the above in some way that will work best for you. When you’ve completed your filing system conversion to Paper Tiger, and you want to file something, you simply find an empty container (hanging file folder), or an existing container with other paper files on the same subject, put the paper in the folder, type in a few keywords, and you’re done!

You can go from this:

To organized and able to retrieve a file in seconds using Paper Tiger’s search engine:

No more worrying about what to name a file! No more worrying about filing it away because you might not remember what name you filed it under! Paper Tiger will pay for itself many times over, because you will:

  • Save 150 hours or more per year per employee
  • Reduce file storage costs
  • Reduce employee start-up time by 50%
  • Give new hires immediate access to predecessor’s database and information files
  • Increase initial customer service response time regardless of who filed it
  • Reduce legal liability potential by adhering to legal retention guidelines. (Have you created a records retention policy for your office? If not, click here to learn more about Retention Guidelines: How Long Should You Keep Records?)

Maintain Your Organized Filing System

Of course the frequency of filing to maintain your organized system depends on the amount of paper you have flowing through your office. You might decide to index the documents that need filing as they come in immediately instead of waiting to file a stack of ‘To File’ at the end of your day or once a week. Below is an example of how to file once a week after your Paper Tiger filing system has been set up, but if you have a lot of paper, you might consider following these steps in about 10-15 minutes at the end of every day. Whatever you decide is the timing and how long it will take you (daily or weekly), put this in your calendar as a regular reminder….and don’t be tempted to short-change yourself by skipping this calendar appointment. Otherwise, your ‘To File’ stack will get out of hand again!

  1. Pull out your ‘To File’ stack.
  2. Search your Paper Tiger database for an appropriate keyword for each document.
  3. If the file already exists, you will have a file number, such as Reference 12. Write  ‘R-12′ or ‘Ref-12′ in the upper right corner or on the back side of the document in light pencil, and set it aside.
  4. If you need to add keywords to the existing item in Paper Tiger, edit the item and add the keyword(s) for the appropriate file in the database.
  5. Then to the next document, search your database.
  6. If you need to create a new item in Paper Tiger for a document, decide which Location to add it. Go to that Location in the database, click New to add, and Paper Tiger finds the lowest available empty numbered file and assigns this file to that item number. Type in the item name and any keywords relating to this new file, and write the Location and Item Number in the upper right corner or on the back side of the document. Set it aside, and on to the next document to be filed.
  7. When you’ve gone through your ‘To File’ stack, the Paper Tiger database entry task is complete, now you can physically place the documents in the correlating hanging file folder, or you can have an assistant do the physical filing for you, by following the written Location and Item Number on each document.
  8. When you need to retrieve a file, you will search Paper Tiger for the keyword you’re thinking of that day, and you’ll be able to find it in seconds, regardless of who filed it. Also because you took the time previously to write the Location and Item Number on the document, you’ll know where to return the file when you’re done with it! Alternately, if you didn’t write the Location and Item Number on the document, you can search your Paper Tiger database to remind you where the document should be returned.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly converting your filing system can be completed….you just have to get started!

Did you know Paper Tiger is Not Just For Filing Paper!? Basically, anything that you can put a number onto, can be indexed into Paper Tiger. Click here to see even more ways to use Paper Tiger to get organized. Paper Tiger Filing System software enables users to manage paper and other physical items to get organized more effectively.

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It can be overwhelming just thinking about what you have to do and the decisions you have to make to get organized. You might be tempted to give up before you start – but don’t! Whether you’re organizing your desk drawers, filing cabinets, a stack of paper files, a closet, attic, or the garage, Paper Tiger Filing System software will help you get organized! You can have a system in place so you can maintain organization, and be able to live and work in an more productive environment.

Overwhelmed getting organized

You may be asking yourself, why do I want to add another ‘system’ to my chaos. Will this really help me get organized? Think about it this way. You are already wasting a lot of time searching for things, whether it be a file under a name you don’t remember what you filed it under, or maybe you’re looking for something that you’ve boxed up in the attic, but you don’t know which box?

You also may dread the thought of having to make decisions about what to throw away or what to keep. Remember the Pareto Principle, you know the 80/20 rule … we only use 20% of what we have, and the other 80% are back-ups, mistakes, things we have held on to because we haven’t made good decisions about what to do with them. If you don’t try to figure out a system that will help you get organized so you can find what you need when you need it, you may come to realize that you’re only using 20% of what you can find!


Sort: Whatever you’re organizing, you will need to sort through the clutter. Put similar or like things together.

Think about the similar items you have scattered throughout your home or office, and make a home for those like items to get them together. For example, do you have appliance manuals and warranties scattered, but cannot find the one you need? Depending on the volume of these similar things, designate a drawer, a hanging box file folder, or a box for these. Note that you don’t have to go searching for these items now. This could waste a lot of unnecessary time, however you will at least have a home for these items and will know where they go when you organize and sort through another part of your home or office and come across them at that time.

Make good decisions now! You’ll need to ask yourself some questions about your paper files and other stuff. Set yourself up for a maintenance plan that can be continued.

  • Does this need action on my part?
  • Does this need to be given to someone else for action? Delegate! Send it on, with instructions if needed.
  • Do I really need it? Do I need to keep it for tax or legal reasons?
  • What will happen if I throw/give it away, but need it again later? What is the worst thing to happen if I don’t have it? If it’s a paper file, does it exist elsewhere?
  • Is it recent enough to be useful? Or if physical other than paper, have I used this in the last 6 months? If not, ask if there is a more convenient place for this item, or could it be more beneficial to someone else.
  • Do I love it? If you don’t love it, decide to give it away or toss it. If it is something that causes you emotional turmoil when asking these questions, is it something that you could take a picture of for the memory, and then let it go?

When using Paper Tiger, you have the decision as to how you want to differentiate your types of files by creating what we call ‘Locations’ in the database. A Location is a group of like items, and could relate to where you will store your physical items or could relate to the types of physical items that you plan to index (paper files, books, CDs, DVDs, storage boxes, etc.) Your Locations can be named anything you want – however you relate to what you are indexing, i.e., Office files, Home files, Action files, Reference files, House, Basement, Garage, etc. Paper Tiger uses Locations to represent these places where you store the items you want to be able to find later. For example, your Reference files Location might contain an index of all files in your 5 file cabinets of 4 drawers each, and Item #1 in Paper Tiger starts with the documents in the first hanging file folder in file cabinet 1, and end with Item #500 in with all documents indexed from the last hanging file folder in file cabinet 5. Or you could differentiate your paper files even further with additional Locations such as Clients, Financial, Administrative, Research, etc.

You decide what is best for the way you wish to file. Remember, Paper Tiger is not just a filing system, it’s a ‘finding system’, so as long as you put in a few keywords for each hanging file folder, you will be able to find anything you need…and when you need it without time-wasting searches. A simple search in the database for whatever keyword you’re thinking of that day, will help you find the file quickly.

Paper Tiger experts recommend starting with Locations named ‘Action’ and ‘Reference’. Later you can create an ‘Archives’ Location for those files that you can’t part with for legal or tax reasons, but need to be moved from your general file area. These items can be transferred from one Location to another in your Paper Tiger database so you can still find them if you ever need them.

Action: For things that need action by you, either do it now or place a note on it that outlines what action needs to be taken and by what deadline. (See Paper Tiger Action Files)

Reference: Paper files that you need to keep for reference occasionally, but do not require action, can be indexed into your Reference file location. (See examples of Reference Files)

Toss/shred: If you don’t need a piece of paper, then throw it away or shred it! If you don’t need that old bike anymore, give it away to someone you know or maybe a non-profit agency such as If you can’t wear or haven’t worn some of your clothes or shoes in a year, then give them away to someone you know or maybe to Goodwill.

Other Physical Items (not paper files)

For other physical items, (such as books, CDs, DVDs, boxes/containers, etc.), decide if the items need a location in Paper Tiger or if you can index keywords for the items in with other things. See other Location suggestions described on our Not Just For Filing Paper page. Basically, anything that you can put a number onto, can be indexed into Paper Tiger. For example, for CDs or DVDs, you can either place a numbered label that matches the item number in Paper Tiger, on the CD/DVD jacket or you can place the CD/DVD in a binder such as the one pictured below, index the name, author, and other pertinent information into the item’s keywords section in Paper Tiger. As you can see, the item number was written with permanent marker on the DVD and on the DVD binder slot. So the DVD numbered 45, would match what was indexed in Paper Tiger’s item number 45 for the DVD Location (DVD 45).

Other Locations might be for information only (unless you keep related papers in your Reference files), such as:

  • Passwords: for user names and passwords for websites
  • Subscriptions: for keeping record of subscriptions and renewal info
  • Statistics or Ideas
  • Books Read: books you’ve given away, but don’t want to forget you’ve read
  • Frequent Traveler – Membership #, toll free phone number, User ID, facts about memberships

To create your custom Location labels or more Action or Reference labels, Paper Tiger makes it easy. In case you’re wondering, there is no limit to the number of locations you can have! Click here to see even more ways to use Paper Tiger to get organized.

Paper Tiger Filing System software combined with a proven methodology, enables users to get organized and manage paper and other physical items more effectively.

Work the SMART system and get organized quickly!

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When using Paper Tiger, you have the decision as to how you want to differentiate your types of files by creating what we call ‘Locations’ in the database. A Location is a group of like items, and could relate to where you will store your physical items or could relate to the types of physical items that you plan to index (paper files, books, CDs, DVDs, storage boxes, etc.) Your Locations can be named anything you want – however you relate to what you are indexing, i.e., Office files, Home files, Action files, Reference files, House, Basement, Garage, etc. Paper Tiger uses Locations to represent these places where you store the items you want to be able to find later.

You decide what is best for the way you wish to file. Remember, Paper Tiger is not just a filing system, it’s a ‘finding system’, so as long as you put in a few keywords for each hanging file folder, you will be able to find anything you need…and when you need it without time-wasting searches. A simple search in the database for whatever keyword you’re thinking of that day, will help you find the file quickly.

Paper Tiger experts recommend starting with Locations named ‘Action’ and ‘Reference’. Later you can create an ‘Archives’ Location for those files that you can’t part with for legal or tax reasons, but need to be moved from your general file area. These items can be transferred from one Location to another in your Paper Tiger database so you can still find them if you ever need them.

Reference Files are files you need to refer to from time to time, maybe occasionally, maybe once a year, or maybe just hold onto just in case you need to review the file again. For example, your Reference files Location might contain an index of all files in your 5 file cabinets of 4 drawers each, and Item #1 in Paper Tiger starts with the documents in the first hanging file folder in file cabinet 1, and end with Item #500 in with all documents indexed from the last hanging file folder in file cabinet 5. Or you could differentiate your paper files even further with additional Locations such as Clients, Financial, Administrative, Research, etc.

In the Reference Files Location, you might have hanging file folders for the following:

1.   Invoices (within this hanging folder, you can file invoices either by month, chronologically or alphabetically)

2.   Purchases (within this hanging folder, you can file purchases either by month, chronologically or alphabetically)

3.   Expenses (within this hanging folder, you can file expenses either by month, chronologically or alphabetically)

4.   Taxes (within this hanging folder, you can file the documents relating to only the current year’s taxes. Previous year’s taxes should be Archived, along with the invoices, purchases and expenses for those respective years.)

5.   Utilities (within this hanging folder, you can file utility bills either by month, by the type of utility or company name. You might have manilla folders within this hanging folders with the type of utility: -Electricity, -Gas, -etc….then you could just input each new bill in the front of the respective manilla folder so the latest bill would be at the front)

6.   Insurance (within this hanging folder, you might have manilla folders filed alphabetically for Autos, House, and Office) The Item name would be Insurance and keywords might be ‘automobiles, cars, Ford, Honda, State Farm, name, address and phone number of agent(s), policy, home, office, equipment, health, employee, employers, personal, workers compensation, … You could also sub-divide this to Insurance-Auto, Insurance-Home, Insurance-Office into 3 separate hanging folders.

7.   Software

8.   Passport

9.   Sports activities (schedules for tennis, baseball, classes, team members, etc.)

10. Billy (school papers, immunizations, schedules for classes and other activities, awards, etc)

11.  Susie (school papers, immunizations, awards, schedules for classes and other activities, etc)

12. Community Service

13. Personnel/Human Resources (within this hanging folder, you might have manilla folders for each person in your company filed alphabetically) However, if the documents for each employee is greater than what will fit into a manilla folder, you might create a Location separately for Personnel/Human Resources. This would give you the option of creating a separate hanging folder for each employee.

14. Medical records

15. Time sheets and/or pay stubs

As you see these are not in alphabetical order, and of course, they do not need to be since we are indexing our files with Paper Tiger, however you might want to think about what types of files that you want to put together. For example, the files that you will be referencing more frequently in the first 1 or 2 file cabinet drawers convenient to you. The list above would be indexed Reference 1, Reference 2, Reference 3, Reference 4, Reference 5, etc. through Reference 15. The next file that you add to Paper Tiger then would be assigned Reference 16 and would go into Reference 16 hanging file folder.

You might also have an Archives Location for the older files that you need to keep for legal or tax or various other reasons for longer periods of time, but most likely will not need to reference again. See our blog posts for Records Retention Guidelines. You would be able to transfer these files in the database from one Location (i.e.: Reference) to the Archives Location so that you can still keep track of where they are. Then move the physical files to the physical location to coincide with the indexed file item number in your Paper Tiger database. (Whatever you change in your Paper Tiger database, you will want to ensure that you match the change in your physical files.) As information, when you transfer files from one Location to another, this opens the Item Number from the original Location for new documents.

When a hanging file has gotten too overstuffed, you can sub-divide that file chronologically by year.  For example, your hanging file folder Reference 12 for Community Service for 2010 through 2014 could be moved to new hanging file folders with Item Names ‘Community Service-2010′ and  ‘Community Service-2011′, etc. If you move them within your Reference Location, they would be added to the first 2 available open Item numbers in Paper Tiger. Or you could transfer them to your Archives cabinet. Reference 12 would then have room for your new current year community service information.

For the above example, assuming that Reference Item numbers 1-4 all relate to information that you need for your taxes, you would be able to transfer those files to an Archive hanging file folder (or drawer or box depending on the amount of documentation you have and where you will be moving those documents to) named ‘Taxes-2014′ after you have completed your 2014 taxes. Reference Item numbers 1-4 would then be available for your new current year documents relating to the respective Item Names.

How do you manage files that you keep for reference?

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