Too Much on Your Plate, Try FAT!

Too Much on Your Plate, Try FAT!

Are you overwhelmed with paper and emails? Did you run out of space in your file cabinet? Is there too much on your plate, and you don’t know where to begin?

FAT is an acronym for a simple, smart, and effective way of getting-things done.

The FAT system was originally designed as a way to handle paper coming into our lives, finding its way on top of our desks and then into filing cabinets. This system also works great for handling e-mail and other to-do items. Let me break it down for you.

FAT stands for File, Act, or Toss:

1) File “it” in a reference file in case you need it in the future.
2) Act on “it” immediately or in the near future.
3) Toss or recycle “it.”

You define what “it” is for you.

“It” can be a diverse number of things, such as, new ideas, purchased items, gifts, etc.

When you process each incoming item only once, you don’t have to come back to it again. This will save you plenty of time and will help keep you sane. Mental clutter is often the result of too many options, too many postponed decisions, or the accumulation of too much paper/email. Now, there are only three decisions you can make: File, Act, or Toss.  Keeping paper/e-mails/to-do-lists down to a few items has a huge positive effect.

Some things to consider when using FAT:

1) File – Be positive you will get back to it again. Think when/why/how. Will you really return to that email, check that bookmarked website, contact that person you got a business card from ever again? Or will filing continue to increase “stuff” in your office or at home?

2) Act – Go for it now or later. Do it in actuality and do it just once. Can you act on that piece of paper/e-mail right now? Are you really going to act within a reasonable time? Or can you forget about “it” altogether and move on?

3) Toss – If you are not filing or you are not acting on “it,” you should toss it. Try to recycle that piece of paper, purge those files from your hard drive, or donate those clothing items you have not worn in months, etc. Tossing is not only about trashing, but also about giving to someone who will make use of it.

You can employ FAT right now. You can start by looking at all the paper clutter on your desk, your inbox filled with unanswered e-mails, the 5-year old files occupying hard drive space on your computer, and the stuff on your closet and your drawers, etc.

Try the FAT system moving forward. Think FAT every time you bring something new into your home. I bet your life will begin to feel uncluttered and less stressful.

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