Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Overcoming Paper Clutter

Even with all the technological advances in the world I don’t think our society will ever truly be paperless. In fact, the recent technological advances seem to have created more paper to deal with in many cases. We have receipts, bills, insurance policies, certificates, investment statements, health records, and more. Then added to that is the daily influx of junk mail- magazines, catalogs, sweepstakes entry forms, etc. Today we will learn how to overcome paper clutter once and for all.


Your mail needs to have a designated spot. When you pick it up from the mailbox each day, bring it into the house and put it in the same spot. This can be a basket, a designated space on the kitchen counter, or on your desk in your home office.

Your goal should be to handle mail as soon as it enters your home. But at the very least try to have a set time each day that you go through the mail and deal with it, so you don’t end up with piles of mail and magazines spread throughout the house.

• Magazines- only keep the current month’s issue

• If there are articles that you want to keep for future reference or for a recipe, etc than invest in a 3 ring binder with plastic page protectors. Tear out the article that you like and throw away the rest of the magazine.

• Catalogs- When a catalog arrives at your home and it is not one that your regularly order from call the 800 customer service number on the back and request to be taken off the mailing list.

• Junk Mail- this should be immediately thrown away. If you like the coupons from the ValuPak, etc then clip the ones you like and throw the rest away. This will cut down on the amount of paper clutter laying around the house. To stop unwanted credit card offers call 1-888-567-8688 or write to Direct Mail Association Mail Preference Service at PO Box 643 Carmel, NY 10512. Include your name, complete address, zip code and a request to “activate the preference service”. This means you will only receive those catalogs, offers, etc that you personally request. The Direct Marketing Association estimates that this will stop 75% of the junk mail that comes to your home!

• Bills- have a place for all the bills that need paid to be filed until it is time to pay them. This can be a plastic shelf divider, a basket, a file folder, an accordion file, etc. Whatever works for you is the best system to have.

• Invitations, fliers, etc.- We all get the invitations to weddings, special events at the senior center and family goings on. Have a place that you put all these and weekly go through and sort out what has already happened and throw it away. As soon as you receive any type of invitation or reminder with a date in the mail you should check your calendar and if you plan to attend go ahead and write it on the calendar so that you don’t forget in the future.

Paper, in general:

• Newspapers- If you use the internet all major newspapers including the local papers are available (in their entirety) on line. If you are not computer savvy or prefer to hold the newspaper than be sure to recycle or toss newspapers at least weekly. Piles of old newspapers are untidy and create a fire hazard as well!

• Important personal papers- These include your will, birth certificate, social security card, passport, etc. Keeping these in a fireproof box is safest or use a safe deposit box at the bank. Other files you may have include 401k statements, bank statements, mortgage statements, stock/bond/IRA statements, warranties/instruction manuals, car information including car insurance and title. Keep your files organized and accessible according to how often you access them. If you only access certain papers once a year at tax time than file them in a banker’s box in the attic. Keep files you need on hand in the file cabinet.

Next week: How long should I keep it? (paper that is)
Happy Organizing!


Posted by Melissa of Multitasking Mama

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