Weren’t we promised a paperless world? I hate paper as much as you do, but I’ve found the secret to dealing with this monster. Here’s what to do before you start:
- Make space: clear off a table so you have room to spread out.
- Turn on music: Find something high-energy. (My faves are 60’s classics and Motown – yes, I just dated myself!)
- Add energy: It’s easier with a highly-caffeinated beverage!
Like with any organizing project, break down your goals into smaller parts.
STEP ONE: Trash Only
This is the fastest part. Do it quickly – no thinking necessary! Throw out trash and only the trash, including:
- Junk mail
- Empty envelopes – unless you need to save the postage for legal reasons, NEVER put a letter or document back into its envelope. Once the envelope is empty, throw it out.
STEP TWO: The Easy Stuff
Categorize ‘like’ items together.
- Staple documents together that go together. When dealing with piles of paper it’s easier to deal with them as a unit.
- Magazines/Newspapers—All Sports Illustrated together, all SF Chronicles together, all Architectural Digests, etc.
- Catalogs—Pottery Barn, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, it’s endless, isn’t it? I sat down for 15 minutes and stopped most of my catalogs. I saved trees, money, and time. You can too! For additional inspiration, see my post about a film that changed my shopping habits.
- Unpaid bills—Stack in order of their due date. If you’re still getting paper bills, consider going paperless. It’s very simple and most paper bills include easy instructions.
- Paid Bills — Some need to be filed for tax purposes and some thrown out.
- Receipts—See How To Organize Your Receipts
- Coupons—First, throw out the ones that aren’t valid, then put the valid ones in an envelope. I put this envelope in my car so they’re always handy.
- Documents & Updates—Only you can decide if you need to keep these. Many financial institutions will send this info to you electronically.
STEP THREE: Create a filing system. Or not!
- I explain both options more in How to Free Yourself From Filing Paperwork.
If you get started and realize you’d like some help, contact me. I specialize in organizing solutions, interior design and move management, all custom-designed for your life.