In what has seemingly become a “paperless” society, there are still many of us who feel like we are drowning in paper.
Wallet overflowing with receipts? Desk drawers crammed with wedding invitations and old Christmas cards, note papers and articles to read? Piles of bank statements, catalogues and bills shoved in the far corner of your kitchen? Paper clutter is one of our worst offenders. It accumulates quickly and can be totally overwhelming if you don’t deal with it on a daily basis.
Coming up with a system of organization for all the paper in your life takes thought and planning, not to mention time and effort. Sure, letting papers pile up is a lot easier. But, let it go on too long and it will be overwhelming; your space becomes someplace you want to run from, not someplace you enjoy.
Taking the time and effort to develop a systematic way of organizing your papers can result in a lot less stress in your life.
The first step to decluttering your paper is to stop all future paper items from entering your home.
First and foremost:
Transfer everything online. Most banks and major utility companies offer the choice to stop receiving statements and notifications in the mail. Go to their online site, often there is often an opt-out choice. If you are not sure, call the company billing department.
Once you are on their site, you can also sign up for bill pay online. End the habit of hand-written checks (if you haven’t already) and pay your bills online instead. You can even set up auto pay, where you do not even have to think about any of it.
Many banks offer this choice as well; where money will be transferred from your bank account directly to your utility or other company where a monthly payment is owed.
An online bill pay system makes it easier to pay your bills on time and manage your budget. It also eliminates the need to stock up on envelopes and stamps…more paper clutter.
While you’re at it, unsubscribe from all the magazines you’re no longer interested in.
Next, gather every bit of paper in your house. Don’t forget to check the junk drawers for crumpled take-out menus, instruction manuals, and neighborhood flyers.
Immediate Action (all papers that require action on your part — RSVP cards to mail, forms to sign, letters to send, bills to pay).
Read (If you are like most people this one will be large)
You can stack them in 5 baskets or containers of your choice
With any luck, your biggest pile will be “recycle”, followed by file and read.
You can put the “To Read” basket in a different part of your home — such as your bedroom or study — so that you can catch up on your reading whenever the opportunity arises.
Now, come up with a filing system that’s relatively easy to use. You don’t want your filing system to be more stressful than the stress it’s supposed to alleviate. Make it organized and easy to access…if it’s not easily accessed, you will start piling paper on your desk again. Make it spacious enough to store new documents over time
Use files of different colors, with bright tabs and labels. That will make it easier to find different subjects and interests. Have some fun with it and make it artsy. Next, stock up on file folders and separate everything into categories. Be thorough in your categories: pets, home, medical, crafts/creative, kids, work-related, travel ideas, etc. Be as specific as possible with your labels, but not so specific that you only have 2 papers in a folder.
Rossi has a great selection of file folders, both single and 3 tab, as well as document holders for papers, magazines and catalogues.
Consider your available space before you buy new filing equipment. If you have open desk drawers, get some metal file rails. If you have an abundance of closet space, maybe a rolling file drawer or portable file bins. (Think: IKEA) Perhaps buy a good filing cabinet…preferably one that doesn’t scream “office”. There are nice wicker or wooden ones available.
Prefer to keep your files in plain sight? Opt for a desk organizer.
Keep important papers where you know they’re safe: Keep your documents, (bank account and credit card information, birth certificates, passports, deeds and wills) in a safe place, or invest in a lock box, but make sure that you can easily get hold of them when you need them. These could also be scanned into your computer or kept on a thumb drive, but keeping the hard copies is still a good idea. Give big categories like Finances their own folders with additional files for specific types of documents like Tax Returns or Bills.
Make filing a habit: Find a time during the week to empty your “To File” basket and file those needed papers away. This task really shouldn’t be overwhelming. Spend 15 or 20 minutes at most.
To prevent your desk from turning into a dumping zone, make a daily or bi-weekly appointment with yourself to take care of the papers and clear the space.
Shred: Anything that has your personal information on it like your address, social security number, phone number, or bank account number. Do not toss these papers in the recycling before shredding.
Recycle: your stacks of magazines and newspapers. Be honest: Will you ever read them again, or use them for a future craft idea? Pinterest has us covered there….. Put a recycling bag or bin near your front door and before you even bring mail into the house, stop at your front door to toss all the mail you don’t need… flyers, advertisements, coupons, and junk mail. Then whenever you’re on the way out the door, grab the bag and dump your paper in the recycling bin.
Transfer: invitations, flyers, or every new piece of paper that highlights a date or deadline, record all the upcoming activities and information to a calendar and recycle the paper in the trash. A digital calendar is ideal, but if you want to see your weekly schedule without having to unlock your phone or iPad, buy a desk or wall calendar. Besides, that puts your calendar right in front of you at all times. Digital is great, but not for everything.
Hide in plain sight: the paper items you use every day. Put new magazines on your coffee table, stationery on your desk, etc.
Display: sentimental items like cards, school papers, and souvenirs in colorful boxes or baskets on bookcases and shelves. You’re more likely to look through your mementos every now and then if they’re not tucked away in a closet.
Stockpile: all your office-related paper goods (like extra printer paper, notebooks, pads of paper, envelopes and cards) in the same area for easy access. A bookcase shelf or a convenient closet shelf.
Tweak: your files every once in a while. At a later date, take a look at what’s in your files. Usually, you find that a file is either underused or overstuffed. If you find that you have only one or two things in a file folder, find or create a file that’s broader in scope. Alternatively, if you find that a folder is overflowing with contributions, create subcategories, either by topic or by dates.
Scan: anything or everything if you prefer to store everything in a cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox. You will be able to access those files from any device. You can always also store your files locally on your computer hard drive. If you do this, make sure you use some sort of file backup system incase anything should happen to your computer.
Thankfully, all it takes to banish paper clutter from your home are a few clever tricks and well-implemented organization systems. Take your life back.
Check out all the Rossi file folders and document holders in our Stationery and Gift Items catalogue at https://rossi1931.com