06. November 2012 · Comments Off on Home Organization – How to Manage Paper Clutter and Create a Filing System, Part One · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

Over the years, I have discovered that by far, many people’s number one organizational concern is handling all of their incoming paper: what to keep, what to get rid of, what to DO with it, and how to store it. Paper disorganization is a messy, dangerous business that at best costs you time, and at worst costs you money. The difficult thing is that no matter how many times you clean it up, more paper just keeps flooding in! Follow these tips to find out how to get the problem under control.

1. Eliminate as much paper as possible from your life.

Nix all the floating scraps by putting grocery lists, to-do lists, addresses, and phone numbers directly into your phone or PDA. Use your computer as the ultimate storage device by scanning in your kids’ artwork (where they can now be kept forever in mint condition, as well as effortlessly shared with family and friends), take-out menus, medical records, and non-vital documents. Just make sure to back everything up. Visit catalogchoice.org to cut down on unwanted mailings, and cancel any subscriptions that are routinely going unread. Sign up to have your bills and statements sent to you electronically, and pay them online. This will eliminate the incoming paper bill as well as the need for a checkbook, stamps, and address labels, and as an added bonus, your payments will be processed at least twice as fast as sending them by mail.

2. Get your family on board. It is imperative that they be involved with the process, so they can take some ownership of the results. After all, everyone will benefit from this. It’s vital that they are doing their part to keep the papers to a minimum, or they will be creating chaos as fast as you can clean it up. When you have the system in place, make sure all members understand it and can use it easily.

3. Institute a 24 hour handling rule. If you address your papers every day, it takes less than ten minutes; every week, it takes an hour; every month, well, I sincerely hope you are weeding through your papers more than once a month! Ultimately, all organization boils down to keeping up, and there is no magic wand for that. After dinner, take five minutes a day to go through all of the incoming mail, the kids papers, and the scraps in your pocket or purse. This is also a great way to make sure important reminders aren’t literally slipping through your fingers, and that kids’ permission slips and other notices are being addressed right away.

Make sure to read part two of this article series to find out how to handle the papers you decide to keep!