Hi organizers! Did you notice anything different in this week’s task title? Hmm. I will give you a minute. Ok, time’s up! Here is the deal: I did not use the word organization! That’s because this week, we won’t be organizing any room in particular. This week, we will eliminate paper clutter from our homes. That’s it!
We will check every room in the house for everything paper: bills, receipts, magazines, books, coupons, etc. Then, we will make organized piles (yes, neat piles!) of paper categories in order to organize them at a later week.
With tax season in full force, you might need to start getting your paperwork in order to hand to your accountant. Or, if you prepare your taxes yourself, it is even more important that you tackle the paper clutter sooner than later. Don’t leave it to the last minute. So, here is what you need to do this week.
1. Make Room for All The Paper
First and foremost, you will need to find or reserve a large surface where you are going to place the papers. It could be a large desk, a kitchen counter or a dining table.
You are probably going to need that area all week, so make sure you can use it for that period without having to move things around. An empty bed or floor area could work too.
2. Make Rounds Around The House
With a large basket in hand (I like to use a laundry basket), make rounds around the house and search all drawers, counters, desks and any other place where you think you might have ‘saved’ or ‘put away’ papers.
These are some of the papers you should be looking for:
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- Correspondence (letters, invitations, unopened envelopes)
- Magazines, catalogues or any other printed material
- School paperwork
Pile up everything you find inside that basket, and depending on the amount of paper you find, you might need to empty out the basket on your empty desk or surface (step one) and make another round.
While making your rounds, try to make decisions on the spot. If there is any kind of paper, receipt, coupon, invitation, etc. that you know for sure you won’t be needing, toss it or recycle it immediately. Just double check that there isn’t any personal and/or confidential information in it such as: bank accounts numbers, Social Security , credit cards numbers, insurance policies numbers, etc. These kind of documents should be shredded.
Making quick and instant decisions will save you plenty of time in the long run. Learn more here.
3. Sort the Papers
On your empty surface (step 1), place 4 empty boxes or baskets, preferably the size of a letter sized paper or bigger. Take a marker or a post it and label each box or basket as follows: file, take action, delegate, and toss.
Now you are ready to tackle your paper clutter. Bring your basket full of paper next to you, pull up a chair and start sorting.
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- File: place inside this box any paper that does not need any action but needs to be filed (or saved). These could be paid bills, important letters or documents, school projects, etc.
- Take Action: place inside this box any paper that needs an action taken (whether it is now or in a few weeks). These could be bills to pay, invitations you need to call and RSVP, school papers that need to be signed, etc.
- Delegate: place inside this box any paper that needs to be referred to someone else for that person to make a decision. These are usually credit card offers, products catalogues, magazines, etc.
- Toss: place inside this box any paper that can be tossed or recycled, or needs to be shredded.
4. Stack Books and Magazines
Because of their size and nature, you are not going to sort books or magazines inside the boxes mentioned on step 3. Instead, stack them in a corner until you are ready to make a decision at a later date.
If you feel like you can make a decision on the spot, do so. I have a hard time parting with books, so I can understand if that is something that you don’t want to part with either. However, consider finding a place for all of them where you can save them and access them easily.
Magazines are my favorite too, but I have learned to let go of them by subscribing to digital editions or making scrapbooks with my favorite pages. I explained this here.
Within a week, you will see how your house is paper clutter free. Or at least, it is concealed in those boxes until you can make and take decisions. This week, you can dedicate an hour or so a day to work on each box and at the end you will only have two piles:
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- File, and
- Take Action
This week, some questions will arise, as what to file and for how long. I will be posting important articles regarding keeping important documents such as taxes, medical bills and insurance claims. Make sure to check the home office organization category on the main menu.
Now, get ready to start picking up any paper that crosses your path! Pin it, save it, share it!
Have a great start of the week,