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Independents' Day

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

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