Handling Action Items

This is the second of a three-part blog series on organizing your paperwork. Check out the first blog, “Organizing Incoming Paperwork

Action items are any paperwork for which you need to perform an action. It could be a bill to pay, invitation to respond to, magazine to renew, school papers to return, etc.

It is important to keep these items organized until the action is taken, then file appropriately once you’re done. In the previous blog, I talked about making an immediate decision when paperwork comes into your house: recycle, file or take action. If you determined that the paperwork needed action, it was put into an Action folder.

Depending on the frequency of the action and the volume of items to be acted upon, there are different ways that action folders can be set up. Your personality will also help determine the type of action folders to create, as how you make timing decisions will determine which folders make the most sense to you. Some of you like a set schedule and will make your determination based on how often you will take action; others will wait until the action needs to be taken. Below is a guide for the type of action folder(s) you should set up.

How to Decide on Creating Action Folders:

Based on the Frequency You Will Take Action

Based on How Soon Items Need to be Addressed


Feel free to be creative – the system needs to work for you, so these are simply suggestions that you can follow, or maybe they will spark an idea for a system that works for you.

Key Point: Once you have taken an action, move the paperwork immediately to their next location: recycle or file.

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