Getting Control of Paper Clutter
Paper organizing, or reducing paper clutter, is one of those things that everyone likes to postpone as it is no fun and can also be a big job, depending when you did it last. If you haven’t done so already, I recommend collecting all the paper that has accumulated over the course of the last year and taking action. Be ruthless, and start eliminating as much as possible in order to get organized for the current year.
Here are some documents that can easily be purged:
- Manuals and warranties of appliances you no longer own
- Coupons that are no longer valid
- Marketing materials/offers for things you intended to purchase, but didn’t
- Credit card bills. I happen to keep my bills for one year and then shred them but that is a personal preference. Nowadays you don’t have to keep your credit card bills at all (unless required for tax purposes) as everything is available online.
- Out of date insurance policies. As soon as you get a new policy you can shred the old one.
- Old pay stubs
- Memos from your kid’s school or your employer
- Duplicates of printouts
- Tear sheets of recipes and decorating tips that you no longer want, or need
Starting a Filing System
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices out there. However, you don’t need anything complicated. After sorting through all your papers (good music helps to stay focused and have fun!) follow these guidelines:
- If you do not have a filing system, start small.
- Buy a package of clear page protectors or folders and a pack of post-it notes and labels. If you are not sure about the name of the folder, use a post-it note so it can be easily changed.
- Create folders for the bills you need to keep track of and add other categories like insurance policies, important documents and so on.
- Start with a few folders and increase over time.
- Every time the mail comes in and it contains one of the documents for your folders, it has to go into the corresponding folder. If you take a page out, you must put it back where it belongs. Always!
- After 6 months, take stock and see whether this particular system works for you. If not, change it. The system has to fit your lifestyle so it will be easy to stick with it!