My Black Binder | Giftie Etcetera: My Black Binder

Friday, February 5, 2010

My Black Binder

My work desk is pretty organized. It has an In box, purely for others to put unprocessed items in for me to process. I process them by dealing with the item (if it is urgent or takes less than five minutes to take care of); filing it (or at least noting the file name and date in the upper right hand corner and putting it in my File box for weekly filing)\; marking my Task list with the need to do the item and, if I have to keep the associated paper, putting it in my Task box; or putting the note on my calendar (if needed) and putting the item in my Out box. Easy peazy.

The real issure arises when I leave the office - for meetings, site visits, personal stuff I need to take care of (like depositing a travel reimbursement check) and for things that need to be done routinely for work, whether I am at the office or not. For that, I have my trusty Black Binder. (Sure, I've tried other colors. They suck, I tell...S-U-C-K, SUCK. My theory? If the binder is too exciting, I don't take it seriously.)

My black binder travels with my laptop in my laptop case. My purse carries all the little pieces of paper that actually have to end up somewhere. For example, my grocery list goes in a special pocket in my purse. A coupon or driving directions to a play might go in a special pocket in my purse. But if it is work-related or if it is personal and needs to be done sitting down at a computer, it goes in my black binder. (Everything used to go in my binder, but it's a pain to carry a binder in the grocery store.) With the advent of mobile devices for keeping track of schedules, a mobile binder for carrying papers seems important, especially if your job takes you away from the office on any sort of regular basis (as mine does about once a week) or if you have lots of personal papers to deal with (like doctor's notes and school stuff for your kids). If you stay-at-home, your binder can sit right next to your computer or, like mine, in your laptop bag.

My particular binder is a one-inch leather binder. The inside front cover has one of those pockets that people can use for business cards. Mine contains my gas card for travel in the state vehicle, a taped-on copy of the chart for figuring out comp time (because timekeeping is one of those things that has to happen for my office, whether I am in the building or not), and some business cards. Also, tucked into the front cover, is a top-spiral bound notebook, for jotting everything. I put dates and tasks in my calendar, and pull pages from the notebook and file them (say, after meetings), but mostly, I just use them as scratch/thinking pads and file them according to date once they are full. Anything that I write in them that needs follow-up is starred and check off when it is transferred to my electronic files.

The next two pages are hole-punched printouts of my weekly outlook for the pay period. I have to keep track of comp time, leave, in/out time, and what projects I work on for a weekly report, so I print these and then jots notes on them throughout the week. I don't use these pages as calendar pages, but as a journal of what I actually work on and when.

Next, I have two clear, double-sided sheets. One contains this month and next month's Outlook monthly calendar printouts (back to back). I don't rely on these for schedule, as they quickly become out-of-date, but they do give me a glance at the dates when I am doing long-range planning and my tiny blackberry screen is insufficient. The other clear sheet contains my office phone list and a map of the districts that we assist. Basically, this is the "reference" portion of my black binder. A mom of a baseball kid might have the team roster there.

I then have NOW and a LATER drop-in, plastic pockets. The NOW one holds information for whatever meetings are coming up, with the most current meeting on top. The LATER holds things I might work on outside of the office (routine reports to be done whenever I get a second, for example) but that I am taking from my Task box at work because I need to have things to do in my down time on the road.

Finally, where most people would put a legal pad (remember, I took care of that at the beginning of the binder, probably because I am left-handed), I put a printout of my weekly tasks. Again, it's a reference only, as I really rely on my Blackberry. But it helps to glance at a paper when I am deciding what to do.

I certainly don't think your binder should look like mine. It should be customized to you. But everyone should have something that works at a bit of a mobile office, even if it's just for trips to the bank.


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