by Maria Gracia
Whether it is the mail being delivered to your door, paperwork brought home from school and work, medical forms, magazines, receipts and more, paper piles continue to grow on a daily basis. Here are a few ideas to lessen that pileup of paper and keep it manageable before it gets the better of you.
1. Include it in your schedule and set aside a certain amount of time each day to process paperwork. Open and sort mail on a daily basis. Immediately recycle anything you do not need. Keep and handle all important documents in one designated area. Divide the papers into main categories of action whether it is to Read, Pay, File or simply Do.
2. Make decisions when it comes to your paperwork. Do not put papers into a big pile and say you will deal with it later. Decide to do something with it now and take action, whether it is to read it, pay it, file it, do it or toss it.
3. Computers have not lessened the amount of paper clutter. In fact, in many cases, they have increased it. People are printing out a lot of things that do not have to be printed. If it is not critical, do not print it out. That information will more than likely still be online to reference again.
4. Use a binder system, such as the Get Organized Now! Easy Organizer. This organizer holds all the important information you need to keep on hand in one handy location. Binders are a great way to organize many types of paperwork that you regularly need to reference. Tabs and sheet protectors are just two of the items used in conjunction with binders that help to organize all your information making it easy to locate.
5. Create a message taking system. Instead of having scraps of paper and Post-it notes all over the place, use a spiral notebook for posting messages. Even if you do scribble a note or number somewhere else, you can transfer it directly to the notebook.
6. Check with the IRS, as well as your accountant and attorney, to find out how long to keep certain documents. Before you put the documents into storage, mark them with an expiration date, if they have one. There are some documents you do need to keep permanently, like deeds for one. When you go through your files in the future to purge documents, you can then toss the documents that have expired.
7. Evaluate your current magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Consider keeping only the subscriptions that you read on a regular basis. Donate old magazines to senior centers, shelters or doctors offices after you have read them. Keep in mind that more and more magazines these days carry many of their articles, if not the whole issue, online.
8. Junk mail is prevalent in today’s society. To control the influx of junk mail in your home (especially credit card offers), call the ‘Preapproved Credit Card Opt Line’ for Experian, Equifax and TransUnion at 1-888-567-8688 . You can request to be omitted from these lists for two years or permanently. You can also register online with the Direct Marketing Association to be removed from junk mail mailing lists.
9. Sign up to pay your bills online with your financial institution. This eliminates the need for envelopes and postage, thereby saving money and time. You can have your statements sent electronically as well.
10. Do you cut coupons, but don’t use them? It is a great way to save money, but if you are not using the coupons, do not save them. If you do want coupons, make sure to keep them in an easily accessible location so they will be used.
11. There is an overload of information in the world today. You must realize that it is perfectly fine not be totally informed. Be selective and limit the amount of information you absorb every day so you do not become overloaded.
12. One sure way to keep paper from piling up is to make sure to regularly go through your files and toss out outdated information. Try each month or twice-a-year at minimum.
13. Many times people file papers that are never looked at again. Before you file anything, ask this question: ‘Do I really need to keep this document?’
14. Keep a list of where all of your important documents are located and make sure that list is in a safe place. This creates peace of mind.
15. Stop procrastinating. Paperwork can become overwhelming, but you do not have to tackle your piles of paperwork all at once. Do it in sections taking baby steps. Once you start and continue to work on the piles, you will see results.
From Sarah – being organized is what saves me in my life – the way I write my to-Do lists, the way my office clutter either works for me or doesn’t – my kitchen – Maria gives you lots of free stuff, and a very inexpensive, very helpful ebook here, where you can get organized once and for all! Visit Maria at GetOrganizedNow->
(Note from Sarah – any commissions we get from Maria’s book sales go directly to children’s charities – so look around when you land on the link page, see if any of the books interest you, and buy through that page if you want to try one out (I really like them) – then to see all her free tips, go to the bottom of the page where it says “return to getorganized now” and you’ll land on her main page.)