From junk mail, bills, and cards, to kid artwork, schoolwork, and other miscellaneous files, paper can be overwhelming. While technology has eased some of the physical load paper brings, it certainly cannot (and I’m not sure ever will) eliminate paper in our lives. So… what to do?
Here’s a few tips:
Treat your paper piles, filing cabinet, desktops just as you would your closet.
Purge before organizing. This may sound painful, especially if you have a lot to go through, but it’s so important if you really want to get a handle (and more space in your house!) on your paper.
Going though every single piece of paper in your house may be too overwhelming right now, but in the meantime, you want to get control of what’s coming in.
Handle the mail every day.
Don’t bring the mail in until you can go through it right then.
Sort the papers into trash, recycle, and keep.
The “keep” category would include anything that requires action — bills, RSVPs — or anything you want to read — cards, newsletters. Put the “keep” mail in one place, preferably some sort of basket, bin, or box (not a pile).
Sort through other incoming papers daily into trash, recycle, and keep.
The stacks that come home from work or school can add up, so be sure what you’re deciding to not trash or recycle is truly worth keeping.
Encourage your kids to help choose which projects or artwork stays, and which ones to let go of.
Set one time a week to go through the “keep” bin.
Pick a time that makes the most sense for your schedule — Sunday afternoon might work for many, or maybe you have a morning or afternoon that’s typically free of other obligations. It’s all about creating new rhythms and habits to stay on top of the paper beast with a simple system.
Questions on how long to keep files?