Conquering Paperwork Clutter
Paperwork. It’s inescapable. We encounter it in our homes, at work, and at school. It is something we can all relate to and something we all probably dread dealing with. How do we get a handle on it? What can we do to manage our stacks, folders, boxes, and cabinets before they become too overwhelming? Let’s go over some tips, tricks, and suggestions to create a system of organization that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Tip #1 Have a goal and stick to it.
Set a realistic and specific goal for what you want to get accomplished along with a set amount of time to finish. For example, “I want to clear out unnecessary paperwork in the top drawer of my gray file cabinet.” Then set aside a time you will do this. It could be a 3 hour chunk of time on the weekend or 1 hour after work each day. Whatever works for you. For example, “I will work from 8-11 AM this Saturday.”
Tip #2 Separate and purge
When purging your paperwork make at least two piles (keep and shred) as a starting point.
Much of the paperwork we have filed away can be digitized (scanned and saved on your computer, flash drive, the cloud etc). These are the papers that go into your shred pile. Don’t have a way to scan? Paperwork such as bills, bank statements, health insurance information, student records, etc can be found on the company website. For example, your bank may send you a copy of your savings account statement once a month, but that information may also be available free to you on your bank’s website. Be sure when you are throwing sensitive paperwork away that you either shred it or block out personal information before it heads to recycling.
Tip #3 Make a space for what you will keep
There are always going to be items you have to hold on to as hard copies. The most important information should be kept in a fireproof box or safe. It is also a wise idea to digitize these as well to have a backup. Other important paperwork can be housed in a file cabinet, file box, folders, or even file baskets depending on how much you have and how often you need access to it. Because of the variety of paperwork we encounter on a daily basis, there are many clever and cost effective storage solutions.
Tip #4 Maintain
Once you have cleared out your unnecessary paperwork and filed away what you intend to keep, you’re probably wondering how you can maintain it. There will always be incoming paperwork. To keep the clutter from returning, reach out to your banks, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, utility companies, etc.These companies offer customers the ability to receive digital statements instead of hard copies. Connect with them to set up paperless billing. This is a quick and easy process and will eliminate the possibility of falling back into where you started. It is also a great way to eliminate paper waste.