Written by Cassandra Merkling (last updated October 28, 2021)
Paperwork can be the bane of anyone's existence. Some of us have such painful paper addictions that one professional organizer I happen to know makes some of her more entrenched clients go on a paper fast, in which they are not allowed to take any papers into their home from anywhere for three whole months. I tend to be a very visual person, so papers help me greatly in remembering things that I would like to take care of or do. Here are some suggestions I have learned from my professional organizer friend:
Handle paper only once. Do not put it away to deal with later, deal with it now. Later may or may not come, but if you do it now, there is that much less for you to be weighed down by until later comes.
There must be places for the papers you need to keep. You can use hanging file folders in a filing box or file cabinet, you can use regular folders inside hanging folders so that you do not have to pay out the nose for all your file storage (look at the post-back-to-school sales and you can get regular paper folders for as little as 10 cents each), you can use accordion file systems, or you can skip the folders altogether and go with ringed binders. Whichever method you choose, be sure to have a filing system that gives a home to all the important papers you have.
Go paperless. If you can, have your bank statements and bills sent to you electronically. This has the main benefit that you can file these documents with a couple of mouse clicks as well as the fact that you never have to deal with the paper taking up space in your home.
Have a place where you can take care of the paper that comes into your home. Many people are somehow drawn to the kitchen with their paperwork, so why not have a place specifically set apart for working with it? First, you will need to have a good chair and a clear table to work on. Second, you will need all the tools you will require for your paper management. If you expect to be dealing with mail there, then have a place for stamps, envelopes, and other things so that you can immediately respond to the mail you get the same day you get it. Have a trash can for junk mail. Have a pair of scissors and a mail opener. Have a large calendar on the wall for all the family's upcoming events and write down the information from every dated material you receive, such as your children's picture day fliers and science fair exhibition dates. Another thing that can help is for you to have an inbox and an outbox. This will make it clear where your spouse and children are to put anything they need you to see that day.
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