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Easy Tips to Organize Your Paper Clutter

By · 11/9/2010


Is your mail taking over the kitchen counter? Is your desk covered in to-do lists and post-it notes? Do you forget to pay a bill because you can’t find it? Most of us have a paper problem of some sort.

The reason paper takes over our lives is because we don’t have systems in place to deal with it on a daily basis. Check out these tips and take control of your paper piles once and for all.

Tip #1: Open mail over the recycle bin

This is where it enters the house…..sort your mail right away, it only takes a couple minutes. Resist the urge to pile it on the counter or stuff it in a drawer or basket. Immediately recycle anything that is junk. That includes ads, brochures, political fliers, etc. If you are not going to act on it in the next month, toss it.

Now, quickly open those envelopes and TOSS them. We don’t need the envelopes! If you pay bills on line, you can toss the return envelopes as well.

Tip #2: Go paperless

Go to your bank’s website and opt out of paper statements. They will email you your statements every month, and if you ever need to access something it is conveniently on line.

Put a stop to all the junk mail. It is estimated that we spend an average of 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail. There are many different ways to opt out of junk mail, but this article has some specifics that are very helpful. Unfortunately, I have not found a free solution that will take care of all of it, but there are companies like 41pounds.org who will take care of your junk mail for you for 5 years for $41.

Tip #3: Document electronically

If you have a calendar and to-do list on your phone or computer, use it. If your son gets a birthday party invitation, put the date and time in your calendar and input the address and phone number under “notes”. RSVP right away and then toss the invite. I recently started using my Gmail calendar and I LOVE it! It syncs to my phone so I can input anything no matter where I am. If you do not sync your calendar to your phone, find out how you can. It is an incredible organizational tool and time saver.

Until fairly recently, I used to be a paper and pen person. If you prefer this method, make sure you keep only one calendar (multiple calendars are to time consuming to cross reference – something usually gets missed or forgotten). Keep it close to where you process your mail, and use it the same way I mentioned above.

Tip #4: Create a Command Center

This is a simple filing system that you use to process the current paper that you need to hold onto; bills that need to be paid, coupons you plan to use, correspondence that you need to act on in the near future. For detailed information on how to set one up read my article on Building a Command Center.

There are countless tips on paper management, but these four tips will help you gain some control over the day-to-day influx. Once you have established these habits you will no longer accumulate piles. And then you will be able to tackle those filing cabinets, drawers, and boxes you have been avoiding.

Stay tuned for my upcoming article on “Turning Your Paper Piles into Freedom Files”.

Now go get your mail and give it a try!

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