Paper clutter is a big problem for most people. Post and junk mail arrive daily through our letter box; we buy magazines and newspapers; we print receipts and invoices and we receive paperwork with purchases. Sometimes it feels that everywhere we turn we’re surrounded in a sea of paper and we’re drowning. But all is not lost; my life-saving tips will help you to navigate the stormy paper seas and come out on top.
If you’ve read my blog on tackling paper clutter The Paper Clutter Rescue Plan then you’ll have already dealt with the worst of your paper problem. But how do you stop the heaps from building up again? What steps can you do to prevent yourself from going in under again?
Paper Control Tips
- Transfer all your phone numbers, names and addresses into a database or address book and then throw away all the pieces of paper and post it notes lying around.
- Don’t print anything that is not absolutely vital. You don’t need a paper copy of everything, so exercise some self-control in this area. (You’ll save money on ink and paper too.)
- Don’t keep decades worth of credit card statements or bank statements. Seven years is the recommended amount of time to keep these, so shred anything older than this.
- If you do print an interesting article or news story to read later, put a date at the top of it. If you haven’t read it by the due date then throw it away unread.
- Throw junk mail away without even looking at it. It will only tempt you to buy things you don’t need and will waste your precious time sorting through it all.
- Develop a routine of shredding for ten minutes a day or once a week, depending upon how much paperwork you generate. This will prevent it from building up into a horrible mess.
- Go through your post as soon as it arrives. Everything which pops through your letterbox requires one of three responses; bin, file or action.
- Throw away the junk, file statements and put papers which need you to actually do something in a red action folder. Pencil in a date when you will carry out the actions required, if you don’t have time to do it straightaway.
- If you have a pile of magazines but are really only interested in a few articles, cut out those articles and put them in a folder. Then you can throw away or recycle the magazines mountain.
- Don’t fill in online or postal surveys. If you do it will generate huge quantities of junk mail as your details are sold on to other companies.
- Invest in a filing cabinet in order to store those papers which you really must keep. A filing cabinet will store huge quantities of paperwork, neatly and in such a way that you can actually find them again (as long as you adopt the self-discipline of labelling sections and filing papers in their proper locations).
Following my life-saving tips will be like climbing onto a lifeboat after trying to swim the Channel. There’s no need to drown in your paperwork. Swim to the surface, take control, and it‘ll all be ship-shape and properly stowed away.