Here are a few tips to minimize the mess before it gets out of control:
- Open mail over top of the trash can.
→ This can be a huge time and space saving habit. I don’t know about you, but my mail box is full of advertisements (that I’m generally not interested in) and grocery store leaflets, etc. Very little of what comes through the mail is worthy of keeping.
- Once a year purge existing files.
→There are certain files that may require long term retention, however, utility bills and those similar could be tossed after a year. (Income tax paperwork we keep forever.)
- Toss church bulletins, business cards, carry-out menus, fliers, etc. that are outdated or you have no use for.
- Donate magazines.
→After you’re finished with a magazine, consider passing on to a friend or doctor’s office. They quickly pile up and become unnecessary clutter.
- Place children’s artwork or school papers in a folder or bin.
→When we establish a set place for these treasures, we not only eliminate a potential mess, but preserve them for years to come.
- Transfer dates/events to your calendar & toss the flier or paperwork (unless you absolutely need it).
♦ I have become increasingly selective in retaining any paperwork that comes into our home. Certain family members are notorious for bringing home an assortment of papers from most anywhere we may have visited, so this probably makes me even more discriminating.
♦ Storing important papers in a fire safe box or safe is crucial in not only preserving such documents, but also being able to quickly lay your hands on them.
♦ If you’re like me and enjoy saving personal letters and cards, establish a “Memory box” to store them in. I also keep special artwork from the kids in mine. On a rainy day, you’ll experience a lot of sunshine in your heart! 🙂
♦ The key with paperwork is to maintain a system that works for you. What works for me, may not be ideal for you, and vice versa. Another important element is consistency. Whatever system you choose, use it regularly. It’s times when we abandon our system that piles and messes accumulate. It doesn’t take much at that point for the piles to multiply because we then begin to give up on having any semblance of order or making progress at all.
♦ If you find yourself in that position, may I recommend putting some papers in a plastic grocery bag and sorting through a bag every few days (or whenever you can spare a few moments). How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! I find breaking up a huge task into small steps is an effective strategy. It helps to offer yourself a reward for a job well done. Just think of how accomplished you will feel when the task is completed!
So, what system or ideas work best for you? Any tips that have helped you? I’d love to hear. 🙂