The most common question I’m asked as a professional organizer is how to manage all the paper that comes into our homes and offices. My advice is almost always the same: Set up a system to make it easy to deal with paper as soon as it arrives. In other words, don’t let those “molehills” turn into “mountains.”
Here are a few tips to get you started…
Keep a trash can near the entrance you most frequently use to dispose of junk mail before it comes in the house. Next to the trash can, set up a shredder to immediately dispose of unwanted credit card offers, etc. that you will not be using.
In a convenient place near the door, set up an open file box with different colored folders for the following categories:
- TO DO: Place anything that needs action in this file folder such as bills, invitations to RSVP, forms to fill out, etc.
- TO FILE: Slip receipts, bank statements, medical records – anything that you need to keep in a permanent or semi-permanent file.
- TO READ: This folder is for magazines, newsletters – anything you’d like to read.
Now – here’s the key. Once a week, schedule thirty minutes of “office hours” to purge these files. Pay your bills. Respond to invitations. Transfer receipts, etc. to your permanent files. And finally, put your reading material in spots where you are likely to have snippets of time to read (purse, car, bath, bedside table).
So… you may be thinking, “What about the ten grocery sacks of paper stuffed in the hall closet that I haven’t dealt with?” My advice – “fuggedaboutit.” At least for now. Concentrate on developing new habits – and then make plans to tackle the closet one molehill at a time.