Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Career Coach - Manage your paperwork

Dr Pam Brown gives advice on how to keep practice paperwork to a bare minimum

Dr Pam Brown gives advice on how to keep practice paperwork to a bare minimum

• We live in the Information Age. Everyone must tackle their daily dose of paper. Even a ‘paperless practice' receives a deluge of paper.

• Learning to manage paper effectively can reduce stress levels, boost effectiveness and free up time

• Start by clearing consulting room paper:

o Make a pile of all loose papers, files and journals at one end of your desk.

o Set a timer for 10 minutes. Starting with the top sheet, separate the items into four piles – Do, Delegate, Discuss, Read. Place each pile into hanging files or folders ready for action

o Deal with each item from the top as it comes up

o Don't get sidetracked into doing anything other than dealing with this paper

o Put someone's name on everything in the Delegate folder. Then give them the work. Keep a note of tasks to follow up

o Set the timer for five minutes and prioritise the Do folder. Then tackle each item in order

o Take the Discuss folder with you to meetings

o Carry the Read folder with you to use waiting time, gaps between patients or coffee breaks

• Use exactly the same system on paperwork at home. Buy a filing cabinet or concertina file to keep things tidy

• When opening the post sort it into:

o ‘Do it now'

o ‘Delegate it'

o ‘To Do In Future'

o ‘Dump it'

• Shred confidential and identity items

• Handle each piece of paper once only. Put a dot on it each time you read a piece of paper but don't complete it. If you procrastinate your papers will look like they've got measles!

• If you travel, keep a folder of paperwork to read on trains, planes and at airports

• Develop a ‘tickler file' – 12 monthly labelled folders, to store paperwork until needed.

Dr Pam Brown is a GP in Swansea

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say