Today’s blog post is from Vicky Silverthorn, founder of You Need A Vicky. Prior to starting her personal organisation company Vicky was a PA to the likes of Lilly Allen and well known sports personalities. She  recently spoke at the Assist Conference on our discretion panel and offered lots of advice on handling confidential matters. In this blog post she shares her top tips on how we can declutter to increase productivity. 

“Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on…. It frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly e.g. Files and paperwork lost in a pile’”

We all know the feeling when you can’t lay your hands on the right form or lose an important piece of paperwork… being disorganised can lead you to being reactive rather than proactive, responding to everything at the last minute because the right documents aren’t too hand. Putting simple systems in place for your paperwork that are easy to implement allows you to control your admin and your schedule, not the other way round. Declutter to increase productivity.

People often associate filing with having to put complicated systems in place – this couldn’t be further from the truth! We all have so many documents coming our way every week that the secret to filing them efficiently is to keep it as simple as possible. I began implementing this system about 10 years ago when I was a PA and I’ve had so much positive feedback on it – it works for everyone and makes such a difference to people’s lives.

Getting Started: what you need

A filing cabinet of drawers – not hanging files, but shallower drawers in which the paper lies flat. I highly recommend the Bisley 10 or 15 drawer cabinet. Depending on your paperwork you might need more than one.

  • A4 paperwork storage boxes with lids
  • An open A4 paperwork tray
  • A4 thumb cut plastic folders (the ones with two sides sealed and two open)
  • A bag for recycling and one for shredding

From now on, any piece of paperwork that comes in will only have one of two places to live:

Action Pile: If you need to do something with it (then it lives here until it is done)
File: If you need to keep it. but there is no action required, it gets posted straight into one of your neatly labelled drawers.

Though the system is simple, it does take some preparation to get going. Below is a breakdown of how to get the ball rolling in achievable chunks.

  1. Establish categories for your drawers. This can be anything from projects, clients, banking, personal, reference, banking, invoices.
  • Get out all your paperwork.
  • Start making piles for each category (make sure you have adequate clear floor space for this so it’s not overwhelming and each section is concise)
  • Collate anything that needs to be actioned (this will eventually go on your action pile)
  • Recycle anything that you can but we suggest shredding anything with personal/company information on. Do this at the end of the task NOT as you go as this can be time consuming and distracting.
  • Any old paperwork that you need to keep for archive reasons to be piled together.
  1. Label your drawers with the categories you have established.
  2. Post each pile in the relevant drawer.
  3. Put anything which requires attention on the action pile.

I guarantee that you will achieve an incredible sense of satisfaction once this system is up and running. It really is as simple as it sounds – no catches, just a set of drawers and one action tray. We suggest getting filing drawers and thumb cut files from We recommend getting archive boxes from or, depending on personal taste and budget.

Declutter to increase productivity

This guest blog is from Vicky Silverthorn, Founder of You Need A Vicky. For more decluttering tips, check out her blog. Declutter to increase productivity.

You may also like