Weekly Quick Tips – Combat Paper Clutter
Weekly Quick Tips
Combat Paper Clutter
Despite our digital -age world, virtual networks, electronic data storage fields and the like, our world still swirls in whirlwinds of good old-fashioned paper. The utopian vision of a paper-reduced, time-saving era still eludes us. According to a 2006 study conducted by the New York Times, we spend one year of our lives looking for lost or misplaced items at home or in the office! The same study tells us that North Americans are bombarded with 49,060 pieces of mail in a lifetime, one third of which is junk mail. In a world where busyness is next to godliness, paper does more than tell the world what we know. It says we count and that what we know, or what we want others to think we know, counts. Rows of leather-stacked volumes in law offices dignify and impress. Stacks of files tell clients they’re dealing with a much-in-demand professional. But, when paper ~ whether in the form of books, bills, heaps of mail, magazines, last year’s Christmas cards, or unfiled documents ~ interferes with our sense of calm, it’s clutter and it’s got to go. To keep paper clutter at bay, here are some of most effective tips:
- Cancel subscriptions for newsletters, newspapers, and magazines you don’t read. At the office, eliminate unnecessary product information and promotional materials.
- Recycle newspapers, newsletters and magazines as soon as new ones arrive
- Consider automated payment on bills or pay them directly online
- Open mail beside the trash can or recycling box
- Handle paper immediately. Take action, file, or discard.
- If you can’t find a document in less than a minute, it’s in the wrong place
- File, don’t pile. But before you put it away, be sure it’s a document you need. Set up a system of current files (employment contracts, credit card information, insurance policies, health records, warranties, that year’s bank statements, income tax information) and permanent records (birth and death certificates, marriage and divorce papers, real estate deeds, automobile ownership papers, stocks and bonds, wills, household inventory ~ keep these in a safe-deposit box or fireproof safe)
It takes a merciless and vigilant strategy to combat paper clutter. It demands that we make choices and decisions that may have needled or even paralyzed us for years. But, by clearing paper clutter, we save time looking for misplaced or lost documents. We will effortlessly retrieve what we need when we need it. When paper clutter is under control, space opens up in our homes, and in our minds. We stop the turmoil within us when we cannot find something and are rewarded with a greater sense of calm that flows from an orderly physical environment.
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