Conquer Your Paper Piles
Years ago, some people thought that the personal computer would make our society paperless. Boy, were they wrong! We have more paper in our lives than ever before. With mail, delivery services, printed emails, and information off the web, no wonder we have a hard time keeping up with the paper piles.We have more paper in our lives than ever before. Click To Tweet
Where do your paper piles collect? Where do you drop the mail when you walk in the door? Do piles of bills, catalogs, and magazines collect on the kitchen table? Do the school papers seem to multiply over night? Do you have a pile of reading material you plan to get around to one day?
There are a few simple things you can do to organize the paper piles and make it easier for you to find what you need.
Eliminate what you can. Don’t print emails or information off the Internet unless you absolutely have to. Don’t keep junk mail lying around. Recycle or trash it. Give the kids the responsibility of processing paper that comes home from school. Don’t collect more reading material than you have time to read. By eliminating what you can from the start, you’ll have less to deal with.
Everyone needs a filing system. The papers you keep need a home. It’s called a file cabinet. File your papers only when you are finished acting on them. You can think of these things as reference material. The statements for bills already paid, financial statements, personal papers such as birth certificates and medical paperwork, and insurance policies are all items that need to be filed. Make a file for every category of paper you have to keep, so you continue to easily file in the future.
Make an action area. Collect all the paper that is left because you need to take some kind of action on it. Sort the papers by categories: to read, to pay, place a call, to send, get more information, etc? Arrange these papers by when you are going to do the action. Using your calendar can be very useful to accomplish your action items. Plan when each action is going to be done, and write it on your calendar. Are you invited to a birthday party next Saturday? Write down all relevant information on your calendar: when you will RSVP, when you will shop for a gift, the time and location of the party, etc. Now you can throw away the invitation. You don’t need it anymore.
For items that you want to keep, write the date you plan to do the action on each paper in your action area, and store them according to the date. So at the beginning of each day, all you have to do is look at the top of the pile and do what has that day’s date on it. Have a Pile for the File. Filing doesn’t have to be done everyday. Just collect paperwork that will need to be filed in one area. Then file the paper in your filing cabinet at a later date.
In order to maintain your filing cabinet, you should plan one day a year to clean it out. If you are not sure whether certain paperwork needs to be kept, ask yourself if you can find the information somewhere else. If so, let it go!