Eliminate Paper Clutter
A guideline for what to keep and what to toss
Piles of paper are one of the biggest causes of stress in our homes as there are so many different types and sources.
Think about all of your bills, your kids school, investments, taxes, legal stuff, vital documents, magazines, etc., etc., etc. It can be hard to know what to keep and what to toss in order to eliminate the paper clutter.
That is why I have created this handy guide. My mission is to help you declutter and get organized. Cleaning out your papers if a great place to start.
Gone are the days when you can just throw out or recycle documents. Be sure to shred all documents with your personal information on them. Do NOT throw them in the garbage or the recycle bin.
Always check with your accountant or other professional advisor for guidelines specific to you and any business you may be involved in. This guide is intended for basic home papers and there are always exceptions to every rule.
How to eliminate paper clutter
For clearing papers set up 3 boxes:
- 1 box for IMPORTANT & URGENT
- 1 box for IMPORTANT but NOT URGENT
- 1 box for NOT IMPORTANT (this should be your RECYLE/SHRED bin!)
Ask yourself as you are sorting:
- Does this item require action?
- Is this information recent enough to be useful?
- When was the last time I referred to this?
- Am I truly likely to need it again?
- Can it be sourced or retrieved from anywhere else?
- Is there a tax or legal reason why I should keep this?
Have a "DO IT" notepad handy so you can write tasks down to prevent you from getting side-tracked while you are cleaning up your papers.
How to keep your paper under control
Open your mail over the recycle bin.
Subscribe to receive electronic delivery of bills, statements, receipts and set up automatic bill payments.
Give your home office desk an inbox to funnel incoming paper into one manageable stack that you can deal with on a regular basis.
If you have records you need to store for a numbers of years, consider putting them in file boxes for storage. Label the boxes properly so you can find what you need easily. Make sure the papers inside the boxes are in file folders and labelled properly to make purging easy when the time comes.
Label files according to what you think of in your mind first so that it's easier to find the information in your files when you need it. Don't get overly complicated here. If it's too complicated or confusing, you won't keep it up.
Keeping on top of those piles of paper ensures you won't have to eliminate so much paper clutter.
Did you know...?
Approximately 80% of the papers we file, we NEVER look at again.
Most papers kept can be sourced online or from other sources if we really need them.
Fireproof/waterproof safes are an inexpensive way to ensure your vital documents are kept safe in case of fire or flood.
You can repurpose that old rolodex to keep a record of all your passwords.
Setting up a family command centre is a great way to keep your families paper organized. Here is a great article on Organizing Your Families Paper Clutter which includes how to set up a family command centre.
If you schedule 30 minutes in your calendar every week to deal with your paper (pay bills, fill out school forms, RSVP to events, etc.) your paper clutter will be kept to a minimum.
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