Where on earth does all that paper come from? The advent of the computer age was supposed to slow down the constant stream of paper coming through the front door. Sadly, the opposite is true. Here are a few pointers for organizing paper flow and to stem the tide:
Stop paper in its tracks
Reduce unwanted junk mail by 70 – 90%. One of my favorite sites is Catalog Choice.
Review your magazine subscriptions. Consider limiting them to one or two per family member.
When ordering by phone or online, opt out of any future snail-mail.
Make decisions the moment paper comes through your door. Organizing paper flow is an ongoing process. Keep a letter opener near your recycle bin. Challenge yourself to turn today’s mail into the smallest pile possible. Start by chucking ads, mailers, catalogs and anything else addressed to “Occupant.” Open your bills, toss the inserts and retain only what is necessary. Then take the few remaining pieces and sort into unpaid bills, correspondence, or filing. File only what is necessary: brokerage statements, tax documents, banking info, etc. Remember that 80% of what is filed is never looked at again! Better yet, request statements by email. You can set up a digital filing system and save a whole lot of trees in the process.
For guidelines on record retention, take a look at SuzeOrman’s checklist.
Here are the IRS guidelines for paper retention related to your tax returns.
Make a date with your paper pile
This is not as fun as dinner and a movie, but the lift you will get when you finish can be just as rewarding. Enter this task in your planner and resist “canceling” with yourself. Set a timer for 15 – 30 minutes…longer if you can manage it and tackle the first pile. Make a decision about every scrap of paper you touch – no more deferring!
Paper can be overwhelming. The bigger the pile, the more daunting the task. I will help you sort the piles, determine what to save and then put together a system for long term maintenance. Organizing paper flow is positively liberating.
Ready to get started? Contact me today for your free initial phone consultation or to schedule your next organizing project.