How to prevent paper clutter from taking over your life

 

 

Recently I have been helping several clients get a grip on their paper clutter. You would think in this age of technology that paper clutter would be reduced, but some days it can feel like you are buried in it.

I can’t remember the last time I came home at the end of the day without some type of paper whether it was mail, work papers, receipts or bills to pay. The endless piles can seem overwhelming and most people are not sure how to get this avalanche under control.

First, for now we must accept that paper will continue to come in the door and therefore we need a simple functional system to manage the paper.

Creating flow and ease is the key to success. Think about your natural flow when you come home at the end of every day. Where do you enter the house? Where do you put down your bags, purse, water bottle, oh and that stack of paper? Most of us dump it in our living space, which often is the kitchen, the center of all activity in the home.

Creating a place to put that paper right when you walk in the door is key to being successful.

I’ve been using the Acrylic Desktop File organizer from the container store because it blends in easily with most homes and it’s a simple solution. I typically choose white hanging files and label them by the types of paper work that my client has coming into the home on a regular basis. This is just one example. There are many ways to solve this problem.

Here is a good starting place for things you might need to file:

Bills to pay. I encourage my clients to switch to an online bill payment system, if they haven't already. There are times when getting a paper bill is unavoidable, and that’s okay too.

Current tax year receipts. If you can put all of your receipts for tax deductions in one place then come tax season half the work is already done!

To file or scan. If it is imperative that you keep a paper document then this file would hold those documents that you review once a week or once a month. These documents should get filed into your home office filing system to keep for future reference. My goal is to help my clients learn new habits of scanning their documents and saving it on the computer in simple organized folders instead of holding onto more clutter.

Kid’s paperwork. Most of my clients are busy families with kids that have school, doctor and sports teams paperwork on a regular basis. Create a home for each child’s paperwork so it is easy to find when you are looking for it next.

In Use or Active Files. These documents are in limbo and still need your attention to follow up in some way. Once they are dealt with, shred them and make room for the next thing.

Take 2-3 minutes when you come home each day to sort the paper clutter and put it in its respective file. Then once a week when you pay your bills everything is already in the same place. The ultimate goal is to create simple solutions like this to give you time in your day to do the things you love.