If you are like many others, your paperwork probably gets out of control pretty fast. Pretty soon, your paper clutter turns into paper growths that seem to take over your table, desk, counter top and of course, the passenger seat of your car. You can easily gain control over your important documents in three simple steps – sort, categorize and file.
Before you get started, get a trash bag for everything you decide to toss. Keep in mind, some items that don’t have personal information on it can go in your recycle bin. You can cut down on a lot of paper flow entering your home simply by paying your bills online. Many utility companies, cellphone providers and credit card companies will allow you to opt out of receiving a paper bill and thus eliminate a bit of incoming paper clutter.
Sort Through It All – This is the hardest step of uncluttering your paperwork but the one that makes the biggest impact on volume of paper. You will have to go through every single magazine, bill, note, shopping list, child drawings, etc., and condense everything into two piles. The first pile is important things that you need to keep and the second is the pile to either recycle or throw away.
Categorize What is Left – The next step to uncluttering your paperwork is an important one! If you simply put all of your paperwork back in one pile, you have done nothing to address the problem and you will quickly find yourself back in the same situation. What you need to do is categorize everything based on your lifestyle and what works best for you. You may want to create piles for bills, vehicle repair information, pet medical records, check stubs, report cards, etc. If you create categories that suit you then you will be more likely to stick with them.
File System – Create a filing system that is easily accessible and convenient. If you happen to have a stack of magazines that you insist on keeping, use a Rubbermaid container or a box to keep them in rather than having them lying all over. You don’t have to invest a lot of money for your filing system either. Manilla envelopes or folders stacked in a desk drawer or a computer paper box works just fine as long as they are labeled clearly. Make a point to file your paperwork everyday and you’ll never have to spend a day sorting through piles again.
In working with people on getting organized, paper seems to be the biggest challenge to about 80%. I know personally that it can creep up without warning. Schedule a specific time to work on sorting and filing your paperwork and it will no longer be your biggest challenge. Happy sorting!