The wonders of TRAF

If you’re alive in today’s world (and believe me, with some people I really wonder), you just can’t get away from managing your in-box. Even if you don’t work in an office, you still have something known as a mailbox, a perpetual in-box if there ever was one. Stuff comes in, and it all needs to be addressed. How do you keep from getting buried under all the garbage?

That’s where TRAF comes in. I can’t remember where I first heard about this process, but it works.

Trash It
Ninety percent of the stuff that appears in your in-box can be trashed. Right away. Ads, promotions, those annoying credit card offers. I like to keep one bin for recyclable paper and a shredder right by the front door. When mail comes in, most of it goes right out again. Same goes for an in-box at work: recycled or shredded right away. The email in-box is even easier. Read, delete. Read, delete. Getting a little zealous with the delete button can be a liberating experience.

Refer It
Of the material that’s left, normally just 10% or less of the original mound, you can refer about ninety percent away. Refer it to someone else. Send those memos on to your subordinates. Hand the lingerie or motorcycle parts catalog to your spouse. Not your problem!

Act on It
Now that you’ve whittled your way to the 1% that’s left, you’re probably going to have to do something with it. Act on it. Don’t wait. You’ve done the lion’s share of the work, so now close it out. Pay the bill, sign the memo, make that follow up call. Just get it done.

File It
You may discover something that you can’t trash, can’t refer, and can’t act on right now. It just sits there looking at you stubbornly saying “I’m here to mess up your Karma”! The last and best thing to do with such annoying material is file it. Put it away where it can’t do any harm, until such time as you must act on it.

Building an amazing filing system is a topic for another day. In the meantime, you can use the ever-powerful TRAF filing system to help unclutter your in-box.

An Article about TRAF from Stephanie Winston’s Book, The Organized Executive
– Here’s a word document that discusses the technique.

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