Control your paper clutter

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Sort out your paper clutter and establish systems how to deal with all your papers efficiently.

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in paper? Paper clutter is one of the worst distractions when you want to work efficiently. You can loose hours searching for a document you know you have somewhere but can’t find it in time. Paper clutter piles up so quickly and can be totally overwhelming if you don’t deal with it on a daily basis.

With just a few simple steps you can get control over your paper clutter and stop wasting your time!

Step 1: Purge your paper (Ruthlessly!)

First, gather every bit of paper in your office which is laying around or is not where it belongs. Don’t forget to check the junk drawers for crumpled leaflets, instruction manuals, and articles you always wanted to read but never found the time for.

Then, sort everything into three piles: File, Recycle, or Action.

File: Put important documents like tax returns, medical files, insurance papers, and leases into a pile to be filed for safekeeping. Stock up on file folders and separate everything into categories. Make sure you cover all the bases (Tax, Medical, Insurances, etc.) and be as specific as possible with your labels. Old outdated documents which you don’t need to keep anymore and have your personal information on it (like your address, social security number, phone number, or bank account number) should be shredded — not tossed out with the regular recycling.

Recycle: Papers which are not important and don’t have your private information on it can be recycled, like for example magazines, product brochures, leaflets, advertising, etc. While you’re at it, unsubscribe from all the magazines you’re no longer interested in.

Action: These are all your papers you still working with like invoices which have to be paid, projects you are currently working on, letters you need to reply to, etc. For these papers we will create an action station in the next step.

Step 2: Create a “Take Action” station

Place all papers that require action on your part like bills to be paid, forms to sign, letters to send — in one designated spot. There are several ways you can design your action station, depending on how many papers which need action you have. You can use expansion files, hanging folders or even pin every document on a board on the wall. The important thing is that you need to revise your action station daily or as often as needed to avoid that your action station is turning into a dumping zone.

Step 3: Use a calendar

Every time you receive a new piece of paper that details an upcoming action, like an event invitation, a deadline for a bill, or information for a meeting next week - just transfer the information to your calendar and store the paper in your action station. After the day of the action has passed you can either recycle or file the paper.

Step 4: Go paperless

Finally, in order to minimise future paper items from entering your home, try to get paperless as much as possible. Most banks and major utility companies offer the choice to stop receiving statements and notifications in the mail — and most of the time you can even save some money since they usually make you pay for sending out statements and bills.

Need some help to control your paper clutter? Just send me an email!

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