Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Organizing The Paper in Your Life

You have piles of paper everywhere and you cannot seem to get control of it.  It is time to get control of the paper you have in your home and eliminate as much of it as possible. 
The most important change to make is to have 1 space for your mail.  You will also need to have a shredder in place near the space you have chosen for your mail.  As you bring the mail for the day, shred the credit card offers and recycle the junk mail.  Sort the mail between the members of the family.  Have an organized way to keep those papers separated for the family members or for the different types of mail such as bills, magazines, and work information.  Do not sort junk mail into your system.  There are many mail organizing options including hanging pockets.  Complete this step each day so the piles do not start.  Piles attract more piles and then you are in the same place you are today.  
After you have determined the sort and toss the junk mail as it comes it, your next step is filing.  How much do we really need to keep and file?  As the surveys and observations will tell you, 80% of the paper we keep is never touched again.  So why do we keep so much paper?  Prior to computers, paper was really the only way to communicate, so we kept all communication.  Now that the computer is here, paper is really not as important.  There are many options on the computer for retrieving older bills and statements.  How many years of bills do you really need to store?   Unless you are writing off an area of your home for taxes, your monthly bills are really not needed form more than 12 months.  The simplest way to keep monthly bills is by month.  You only need 1 file for each month versus 1 file for each bill.  You will notice a big change in your filing immediately.  As each new month comes around, shred last year's bills and be done.  
Obviously there are other papers that are needed to be kept separate.  Have a file for your investments,  The same concept can be used as the bills.  Your money changes everyday.  You only need the most recent report to know how much money you have.  Think about it though, when you get that report, it is not the most up to date at that point because it represents about a week ago.  If you need to compare to last year, that company should be able to provide you with that information and many times it is printed on the statement.  Most places now offer paperless so you can just look it up and have the most up to date information.  No more paper!
Catalogs are another item I notice that consumes my clients piles.  Remember, they send the same catalog multiple times with different covers and different names.  If you never order from that catalog, recycle it.  Go through your catalogs monthly if you cannot throw out one as you get the new one.  Put it on your calendar for each month.  You are more likely to do it if it is on your calendar.  Most calendars have a recurrence function so it can be on your calendar at the end of every month forever.  
Practice dealing with the mail everyday and filing as soon as you touch a piece of paper so the piles do not start again

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