The number one question I get when it comes to organizing is about ALL THAT PAPER. What do I do with it? What do I need to keep? How do I keep it from coming into my house? Please make the MADNESS STOP!!
I strongly suggest you gather all your loose paper into one place—every clutter pile of mail in your living room, all those magazines you want to save but aren’t sure why, the random sticky notes, coupons, envelopes. Search every nook and cranny around your house, and everything that was once a tree (except your furniture) goes in the box. It might be hard at first. I know that large stacks of paper make me want to roll up in a ball in a corner and weep uncontrollably. If you are already there, here are a few verses for you for FREE to comfort you!
Fist off, keep the paper from coming in the door. Here are a few tricks to stop the incoming flow:
- Stop It at the Source: If you aren’t reading the magazines, don’t let them renew. Call the customer service number of catalogs you receive to get off their list.
- Stop Giving Out Your Address: Don’t enter that sweepstakes to win a boat or free windows for your house. Or at least check the box that says they can’t share the information. (And don’t worry – we here at KathiLipp.com NEVER share your info.)
- Keep a Recycle Bag in the Car: I would have my kids go through their backpacks in the car and any paper they didn’t need (or I didn’t need to see) got put in the bag.
- Have a Plan: Our mailbox is in our garage, right next to our recycle bin. At least 60% of paper never comes into the house as it goes directly into the bin. If your box is outside, sort the mail at the box and walk into the house with two piles: one to handle, one to recycle.
You will need to organize this pile of papers into three boxes:
This box is for anything that you need to file. Every household should have a simple filing system for receipts, warranties, tax returns, and all those other papers that aren’t currently “in motion” but may need to be referred to at a later date.
Try to keep your files as lean and mean as possible. You don’t need to keep your check stubs from college or warranties from a fridge you no longer own. Since so much of our lives are stored on our computers, we can get rid of a lot of the paperwork we no longer need. You can find most instruction manuals online, scan articles to keep on your computer, and put reminders directly on your digital calendar.
If you are still getting bills in the mail from your regular utility companies, get online and ask to go paperless. Yes – it will save some trees, but more importantly, it will save your sanity.
GIVE AWAY –
Do you have magazines that your library or some other organization would love? Ask first, and then drop them off.
GARBAGE AND RECYCLING –
You shouldn’t have much for the garbage, but I suggest a shredder for any sensitive information you want to get rid of.
Set aside one day a week to do all your paperwork. If only for fifteen minutes that day, being consistent will make the difference in a home cluttered with paper and one clear for real living!
What do you struggle with as far as papers? Please tell me I am not the only one…
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.