After the marvelous revelation of how much unnecessary paper was in our house, and after knowing what a challenge paper can be in our home, I wanted to share a few simple steps to purge or place your paper!
- Only touch the mail once. Sort and take care of your mail as soon as you bring it in the house. I usually flip through the mail as I’m walking up to the house and will drop the unwanted fliers and solicitations directly into our recycling bin as I come through the garage. Once the mail enters the house, if I can’t thoroughly go through it and take care of filing everything, it goes into our vertical file for unopened mail. However, if you have a minute and can take care of the mail immediately, do it! Don’t wait until later and don’t just do half of it. Get it gone!
- No horizontal piles. Stacking leads to piles. Piling often leads to more piling which leads to more piling which leads to a large overwhelming stack and probably more procrastination on tackling it. Get (or make) yourself a vertical organizer! With a vertical organizer come boundaries of how much paper can be confined in that space. When the organizer is full, it means it needs to be taken care of. No more procrastinating. No piles. (Check out Paper Organization: Vertical File Box for how to get your papers organized vertically and for printable labels.)
- Have a place for everything. If you don’t have a specific, dedicated spot to file that paper you’re holding in your hand, you probably don’t need it in your house. And make sure that “place” is convenient. You are less likely to file papers if you have to go up or down a floor or if your filing system is hidden behind a pile of boxes in your storage room. Taking a few minutes now to get yourself organized will save you a lot of time in the future when you want to put your hands on something specific!
- Sign up for online statements. Go green and save your creditors the time and paper of mailing you statements or invoices. If you need to see a statement, you can always go back and download them online. Now I will admit that I do receive a couple paper statements. However, these are statements that I need for business purposes and are filed as soon as they arrive and not seen again until tax time.
Afraid you’ll miss a payment if you don’t get a paper statement? Automatic bill pay is one option available through most banking institutions. OR… in your monthly planner, keep a list of all your creditors and the date your payments are due. This way you have a reminder to go online and look at those statements and get your payment scheduled.
- Have a shred basket. We like to shred our unwanted credit card offers or anything that may have personal information on it. However, we don’t always have time to shred such items when we open the mail. We just filed everything else, remember? And filing takes priority over shredding here. So we have a shred basket. It sits next to the shredder and is taken care of when we have a few extra minutes. Having the shred basket keeps these unwanted papers off our useful countertops and declutters our living space.
- Minimize your magazines by tearing out the articles you like and want to keep for future reference. Once again, all paper should have a dedicated spot in your house. So get it filed as soon as you tear it out. If it is a craft or recipe you want to make, make sure you have a dedicated file for “Things to make”. OR… if you have a scanner, scan the article into the computer or find it online and bookmark it to come back to later. I would always rather have a computer file that I can do a quick search through rather than the extra paper and files taking up room in my house. The point here is don’t keep the whole magazine. Magazines take up space and the likelihood of you finding the article you wanted to reread is slim. So just keep the article and recycle the rest!
Now that I have you thinking about how you handle and organize the paper coming into your home… let’s take it one step further and get your unnecessary paper purged! There is one week left to our Paper Challenge! When my husband and I took the paper challenge, we came up with 87.6 pounds within 48 hours! Can you beat us?
I will reward the largest paper clutter clearer outer a $25 gift card to The Container Store!!!
For complete details, see Clear the Clutter: Paper Challenge.