I consider paper to be clutter, especially when it is unsolicited. But we must deal with a certain amount of paper on a daily basis. Here are a few ways to keep from getting overwhelmed:
- Setting up and maintaining a simple, effective filing system saves an untold amount of time because you know exactly where to find items you need.
- If you are a visual person, consider using different colors of file folders for different categories.
- Prevent eye strain by using the same file tab for one category. For example, use the left tab on orange files containing potential clients and the paperwork associated with each one.
- Don't over-categorize or get too detailed - it's too much to remember. If you must have large quantities of files, make a one-page list of your files and where they are.
- Keep frequently used files within arm's length of your desk chair. Store less-used files farther away. If you must archive files for a certain number of years, consider putting them in storage.
- If reports, statements, etc. can easily be found online, don't keep paper copies.
- File ongoing projects in a hanging file. At the end of the day, deposit work into that file, clearing your desk. Make a list of projects and work to be done the next day, so it is not forgotten or overlooked.
- Keep a "pending" file for those items without closure.
- Set aside specified time to file so it doesn't get out of hand. Multi-task by filing when you are on hold or when having a casual conversation or when your brain needs a mental break.
Mail, Bills and Banking
- Deal with mail when you receive it – RSVP, file it, toss it, pay it, recycle it, shred it, etc. Try to touch it only once.
- Have one place where you keep your unpaid bills in the order in which they need to be paid.
- Do your bill-paying and banking online whenever possible, reducing time and paper clutter.
- It is not necessary to keep bills once they are paid, if they are not needed for taxes. Keep the last one, so you have a handy record of your account number in case you need it.
- Get checks that make a duplicate each time you write a check, so you don't have to record it in the check register.
- Have one place where you keep items that need attention (school papers that need to be signed, invitations, directions, etc.) - a central hub. Consider having a section for each family member to house their important papers.
Reduce the Paper Coming into your Home or Office
- When you receive a new catalog or magazine, recycle or give away the old one. If you don't have time to read the periodicals or newspapers you are receiving, cancel your subscription.
- If there is an article you want to keep, tear it out and slip it into a page protector in a designated binder. Then toss the magazine or newspaper. If you place a piece of paper in the page protector, you'll be able to use both sides. If necessary, create different binders for the categories that interest you. Your material will be nicely categorized and easy to find, rather than leafing through piles of magazines.
- Ask to be removed from mailing lists. The following allow you to opt out of unwanted catalogs, phone books, and credit card offers:
Yellow Pages Goes Green
Opt Out Prescreen
How do you manage the paper in your life? Subscribers click here to comment on the original blog.
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