- Identify trouble areas/trouble categories
You probably have at least 2 areas in your home where paper just seems to pile up. You get home, toss the mail on the table, put your keys down, and unwind from a long day at work.
Ask yourself these questions:
Where does paper seem to pile up the most?
Where does it always end up?
Where do you want to keep paper from piling up?
- Be vigilant of how paper gets in your house
In order to combat paper pile up, you must keep your shredder and recycle bin in sight- invest in a good paper shredder that can handle up to 5 sheets at a time at minimum.
The best way to prevent the accumulation of paper is to stop it dead in its tracks and sort through it right away. Although that may not always be practical, so on to the next step…..
- Have designated areas for paper to make its way over
If you have a bin for paper and mail to process, that is ideal, but don’t forget about your paper bin, otherwise you will end up with an unexpected surprise pile of paper, neatly organized all in one place. Designate a spot, and make sure you get to it on a regular basis.
- Keep paper out of sight, but readily available to track
Seeing paper around everywhere is very distressing to some and can create unnecessary stress (reminding you of things you need to do later, and preventing you from living in the moment) and make your place look more cluttered than it really is.
- Create a roadmap for your paper documents
When you put papers away, a common fear is that you may not be able to find it again. Create a filing system that works for you- categories, alphabetized, whatever. Invest in a file cabinet or a small box that you can store in your closet.
- Create a processing system
Papers to file, papers to toss, papers to follow up on (bill payments), papers to scan and store, etc.
- Create a filing system
Where will you keep your papers? Is that just for you, or the whole family? Will all family members have a space for their paper? Will you all promise not to mess with each other’s spaces? Where will you keep important documents? Decide ahead of time and then evaluate your system a few weeks later to see if its working for you.
- Back up your paper documents
The expression goes, if you don’t have it saved in 3 places, you don’t actually have the document (although that statement in and of itself doesn’t make much sense to me, my IT guy told me that, so I’ll go with it). Either way, it is more comforting to use a scanning and storage system, in addition to hard copies. If you use Google Drive email, or Dropbox, you can organize your documents so that you can refer to them later as well.
- Have an annual or semi- annual maintenance system for your paper documents
Toss out old bills and documents, or store them in your archives. Wondering how long to keep your documents? Be sure to read more about that here.
- Opt in for digital credit card and bank notices (BUT be sure you download a copy and save it in 3 different places- invest in a good hard drive and back up, as you should anyway)
Go paperless, but be sure to monitor, store and organize your payments so that you can track them.
What are some of your tips for keeping paper at bay? Or more importantly, where do you seem to have the most paper piling up?