A Stew Folder

I have always called this a Stew Folder; however, I have heard others refer to this same idea as a Slush File or a Temp File. If you already use a Tickler File, this concept can work in parallel with that system.

Do to the amount of information everyone receives, it is common for there to be a few documents which are not part of an currently active project or planned outcome which you may need; yet, really do not belong within your current filing system. They are often items that are betwixt and between final decisions. In addition, these kinds of items do not have a tight deadline.

In some ways, the other term, Slush File, certainly conveys the idea that this kind of information may be part of an incipient but unplanned project, as it goes through a phase transformation (e.g. slush is neither completely solid ice nor fully liquid water).

What is the benefit of a Stew Folder? They prevent clutter! Since some extra time is needed to mull these items over before making a decision and then taking action, the Stew Folder exists to prevent these items from being able to evolve into random piles on one’s desk. Like a hearty stew, all ‘incompletes’ go inside a single folder to simmer.

The key for this to work is that you MUST schedule a regular time on your calendar to review each document stored in the Stew Folder. I suggest 30 minutes once a month at a pre-determined time. Some items will instantly become trash. When pulling each item, you should have the mindset that 95% of the documents will meet their doom. Of course, I mean doom in the older sense of the word, simply meaning a judgment. Choose a next action step for each item, unless there is a really good reason to wait an additional week for something. Use the RRAFFT Method I discussed last week. Remember: this type of pause should only occur a minority of times (less than 1 out of 20).

Stew Folders work equally well for your desk as well as your email system.