We are living in the age of the “paperless” option, yet it’s surprising how much paper still accumulates in our homes and offices. The reality is, we all still get mail daily and there are still documents that need to be printed out and dealt with.
All that paper clutter can make things extra stressful, and extra hard to find. Are your kitchen counters, center island and dining room table swimming in a sea of paper? Do the stacks of bills and mail seem to keep piling up around you, creating an unpleasant visual to all that enter your home… along with yourself?
The key to clearing paper clutter and maintaining an organized home is to deal with the paper as it enters your life, piece by piece immediately. Having systems that allow you to put things in their proper place will help you conquer this paper problem—clearing your desk and your mind! Here are a few tips to help you manage the paper you need to keep, and lighten the load:
DISCARD. Face it, most of that paper sitting on your desk or kitchen table can be sent to the recycling bin, and you know it! Take ten minutes or a half hour and sift through a pile of paper; junk mail, old magazines, out of date documents can all go straight to the bin without a second thought. Remember to shred anything with sensitive personal information on it and recycle the trash!
DELEGATE. Whether it’s paying bills or going through junk mail, delegate some responsibilities to others in the household. When you are the sole person responsible for everything, it’s easy for paper to pile up. Share the load! And when you do delegate, have your delegates agree to a completion date and repeat the task back to you. You’d be surprised how well this works!
ACT ON IT. If it takes 2 minutes or less, just do it! You should follow that motto for all household chores, but especially when it comes to paper. Sort through a short stack of mail, return a phone call, send a quick email, read that article, file those papers that have been piling up. Completing these quick tasks will feel so good and help keep your tasks under control.
FILE FOR A FOLLOW-UP. A great way to prevent future paper pile up is to create an action item file system. This system will help keep your current, most important papers in a safe place and off of your desktop and counters. Get a desktop filer, and file these documents based on the action needed: To Do, To Read, Pending, Events, To Pay, Take To The Office and whatever else makes the most sense to you. However, don’t let this become the new paper pile! Be sure to review these files regularly, and toss or file away when completed or no longer needed.
REFERENCE. For those documents that you need to keep—tax information, legal documents, investments—set up an organized file drawer or box. Use main categories like Banking, Household, Insurance, Medical, Reference. Create sub-categories and file them behind each main category alphabetically for easy retrieval later on. Creating a system like this is essential for all households.
CHOOSE THE PAPERLESS OPTION. When and where you can, choose the paperless option. A lot of banks now offer to send bank statements and credit card notifications via email. If you’re comfortable with it, this significantly cuts down on pesky paper pile-up. And, also gives you easier access to these documents in your bank’s secure online system.
If you’re facing the challenge of dealing with paper clutter don’t hesitate to ask for help! I love solving paper problems, and can help you set up a plan to cut through the clutter. Contact me for a quick consultation!