With all the paper you get on a daily basis, is it any wonder that it can easily get out of hand?You open the mailbox and it's jam-packed with bills, advertisements, magazines, catalogs, letters, cards, and
post cards. You get to work and your in-box is to the point Of overflowing with memos, letters, articles and forms. Your kids come home from school with permission slips, graded tests and homework.
Is the flow of paper going to subside? Probably not anytime soon. But the good news is, you can keep it under control.
Here are 9 simple ideas:
1. Dismantle your current piles.
2. Open mail over the recycle container.
3. File immediately.
4. Scrap those scraps
5. Have a place for your paper.
6. Avoid making more paper.
7. Think before your save.
8. Keep weeding.
9. Don't overstuff your filing cabinet.
1. Dismantle your current piles.Each day, choose one pile of paper to work on. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Pick up each sheet, one at a time, and determine what the action should be. There are only 4 Choices to make: Do it, Delegate it, Delay it (file it) or Dump it. When the timer goes off, if you want to keep going, set it for another 15 minutes. If you wish to stop, that's also fine. Perform this system every day for a minimum of 15 minutes per day, and your piles will diminish.
2. Open mail over the recycle container.When the mail arrives, at home or at work, be sure there's a recycle container nearby. If you like to go through your mail while sitting on the sofa, or at the table, that's fine. Just move the recycle container close to you. Then, sift through your mail one item at a time, immediately tossing anything that is of no interest to you. This will reduce unwanted mail from adding to the paper clutter.
3. File immediately.As soon as you have a piece of paper that must be filed, such as an insurance document or a copy of a letter to a client that must be referred to later, take a moment and file it immediately. If you do this, you will never have a pile of papers to be filed. After all, filing will almost always take low priority, which means it has a tendency to grow into a mountain after just a few days.
4. Scrap those scraps.Avoid writing important notes on scraps of paper. First, scraps are easily lost. Second, they do nothing more than add to your paper clutter. If you have to write something important down, do so in a notebook. Then, transfer these notes to your To Do list, your Rolodex, your calendar, or wherever the most appropriate place is.
5. Have a place for your paper.It's very important that you come up with storage systems for the types of paper you get on a daily basis.
* For household and office papers that must be referenced –From time to time, a filing cabinet, with a good filing system in place, is usually the best answer.
* For papers that require action–tickets you have to order, invitations you must respond to, receipts for things that have to be picked up at the dry cleaner or your film developer, etc.–a Tickler File can work wonders.
* For bills, a bill paying system that allows you to pay your bills and then store paid bill receipts is an excellent idea.
* A portable hanging file holder is perfect for kids' school — Papers, permission slips, homework and other papers that are transported back and forth to school. Have a separate holder–in a different color–for each child.
* For projects that you're currently working on, a hanging file holder that sits on a desk, credenza or countertop can keep each project organized nicely. Another option might be individual pocket folders–one folder per project–all contained within a 3-ring binder.
* Magazine boxes, available in cardboard, plastic or wood, are good for storing catalogs and magazines. Once these boxes are full, it's time to toss out a few before putting anymore inside.
* Business cards are best stored in a business card holder,or in a Rolodex. The same goes for any addresses or phone numbers floating around on scraps of paper.
6. Avoid making more paper.Copy machines have made it easy to duplicate paper. You just walk on over to the copy machine, type in the number of copies you want, and press Start. But, before you make copies, first take a minute to think about why you're making these copies and if you truly need them. Do you really need 10 copies of something right now? Can you do what you're doing electronically? Are you positively sure that all those people need to be on your mailing list? And the same goes for e-mail. Don't print out your e-mail unless absolutely necessary.
7. Think before your save.You're going to come across papers all the time that you think you want to save, such as recipes, comic strips you thought were cute, poems, articles, pages torn out of magazines–the list can go on and on. Beware of becoming a paper collector. So many people take up tons of space with papers that never get read again. Always ask yourself how important a sheet of paper is to you, before you take permanent ownership of it.
8. Keep weeding.Papers that are important today, may not be of such high importance tomorrow. This is why it's vital to go through your filing systems on a regular basis, and toss out anything that is outdated, or no longer necessary to keep. This will allow you to make more room for the papers that are important. Do this, at minimum, every 6 months.
9. Don't overstuff your filing cabinet.One, 2 to 4-drawer filing cabinet should be sufficient forthe average family's papers. If you have a home business, or if you work in an office, you may require more. First, be sure you're only keeping papers that are absolutely necessary. Once you make this determination, if you need another filing cabinet, get one. There's nothing worse than trying to squeeze papers into one that's already-busting at the seams.