"Paper Flow: Your Ultimate Guide to Making Paperwork Easy" by MaryAnne Bennie & Brigitte Hinneberg (2011)

, 18 Apr 2015

Paper Flow could be called an idiot's guide to organising your paperwork and papers at home, whether it is just your bills and receipts, a few important documents, or having your office a home properly set and organised.

If you are naturally very organised, you will find that you do most of what the authors recommend without even thinking about it. However, you still will find some items of advice and tips that can improve your system. I got some ahas and items of advice that have proven very useful for my work space. I especially liked some of the comments on the best ways to save family or historical documents, how to declutter stationary without putting things in the bin, or recommended periods to keep some documents.

If your paperwork is a mess and you don't know how to start or what to do, this is your book and it will certainly make wonders for you, your life and your place.

The book is very well organised and reads well as it is written in a very simple blog-like language, that can be understood by anybody.

The book is a bit anal about tidying up, but it is really helpful to get rid of all of your crap :)))

The authors claim that paper flow is the world best proven system to organise your papers. Isn't that pretentious? I am going to tell you what is the  paper flow system in even more simple terms... you will see that you already know what do you but you haven't realised it yet:

You have a basket with bananas and another with apples, so you keep them separate, but put them in a bigger basket called Fruit Basket. Then you have a container with chicken and another container with pork, so you keep them separate and put them in a bigger container called Meats Container. Then, you put those baskets and containers inside your fridge in areas that are the best to keep them at hand and ready for preparation. Then, you have other things that are tinned and bottled and do not need of them immediately, so you put them in your pantry, one shelf for beans, another for carbs foods, another for drinks, another for spices, another for pet food, etc. You put the heavy stuff below and the lighter above. Since you have just one basket for each thing and one shelf for each food category, you need to make sure that you don't buy more than your basket or shelves can fit in;  if you do, you will have to get rid of some of the old stuff to put the new one in, so your food is always fresh and healthy. If your food basket is no longer in season, you remove it from your fridge or replace it with another one in season. Then, of course, you have your cooking books, you put those at hand, as well as your cooking tools. You keep all neat and tidy and looking good because that creates visual harmony and you don't waste your time looking for things every time you are going to cook. 

Apply this to your paperwork management... that is the paper-flow system. Yes, this is it! Just common sense.

I found the appendix of the meaning of colours totally unnecessary. The meaning of colour varies from culture to culture, from person to person, from social class to social class, or from generation to generation, so let everybody choose what each colour means to them. There is so much written about the psychology of colour and the meaning of colours that an appendix of this sort is kinda embarrassing. It would be better providing the readers with some bibliographical serious references for them to consult if they are interested. That requires a bit of more effort and a more serious approach to the readers' intelligence.

I missed, on the contrary, two appendixes one on how to declutter in few simple steps (like a shortcut for messy people), and another on how to organise your paperwork and books if you tend to move between countries, states, cities or just houses frequently. This very fact has dictated what I buy on digital form or hard copy and much stuff I keep and store at home. I learned it the hard way, and it would had been handy learning that the easier way.  

I agree with the authors on the fact that the best way to organise your paperwork is to have the least possible, and to go paperless as much as you can. Therefore, virtual and computer paper flow is advised. You just have to replicate your paper-flow system in your computer. That is it. Is it? No, I don't thinks so. The authors fall too short because computer paper management (virtual or not) and digital technology put demands on us and our paper management that are completely different from those that real paper and hard copy books generates. Space is going to be rarely a problem in sorting out your paperwork in your computer with so many back-up cheap storage devices available. However, you have to synchronise your bookmarks, files, emails and important information in your computer and devices, get rid of some, archive others, decide on security issues.  How and where do you save your documents and emails safely? Which formats are more advisable long term?  How do you visually customise your virtual office? How do you store safely? How do you safeguard your identity? How do you save and archive different webmail accounts and then erase them if no longer need them still have them replicated with attachments in your hard disk (yes, this is possible)? Which sort of programs or resources can you use to keep your virtual archives clean, pretty and up to date? If you are not organised and find a problem dealing with your papers at home, you will find even more difficult to deal with those in your computer and I will need of more tools than opening replicas of your files in your computer. The book is not there yet!

I don't see the need of endorsing any storage shop or brand, as many of the items described and photographed in the book can be found anywhere. I love the brand mentioned, but any other office supplies shop can provide you with pretty little things to make your office good looking and tidy. I hate endorsement of brands in books I pay for. It is totally uncool. On the other hand, a few empty shoe boxes  can make wonders for you and your papers. 

This is a great book for people who tend to be messy and do not know where to start when dealing with their archives, projects and bookkeeping. It gives sound advice on how to manage your papers and how to take advantage of tiny space and little time to create a work station that suits your needs and to organise your papers in the best possible way for YOU.