Are you drowning in paper?

I would love to declare a war on paper! That may sound exaggerated but I truly believe we are being inundated with paper, and although we do not need to hold onto the majority of it, most of the time we seem to do just that. I think that’s partly a factor of not taking the time to decide in the moment whether a piece of paper is really necessary or not. And partly the fact that paper acts as a magnet, if you already have a pile or two of paper clutter then it just becomes easy to add to it.

Stacks and stacks of paper around the house do become overwhelming though, and will make any area of your home look and feel cluttered. Here’s a fairly simple plan for cutting through the worst of it:

– Collect up every stack of paper from around the house and gather it all into the one area, which potentially could be the dining room or kitchen table. In other words, you want a decent size working area that you can spread out on.

– Put 2 different types of boxes or large plastic bags beside your chair; one will be for recyclable paper and the other for confidential paper which you might want to shred. An extra rubbish bag might also be useful for plastic wrap and the like which you may find amongst your papers.

– Now begins the sorting process, and you need to decide what paper you really need to hold onto:

o Does it relate to financial papers which you are legally required to keep?
o Is this information something you could just as easily find on the internet?
o Is this piece of paper really useful?

– Before you start sorting and culling make sure you have a nice clear area on the table so as you sort through the paper you can put it into categories, use post it notes to label each category and if you have some spare manila folders you could use one for each category which will keep the paper contained as you sort.

– The trick here is to sort quickly and decisively, because if you start reading every piece of paper you’ll get bogged down and it will all become too hard. You’ll soon get into the swing of deciding what you really need to keep and what you don’t, and it will become a satisfying exercise as you start to see the boxes fill up, and your stacks of paper reduce.

Once you’ve sorted through your piles of paper you may have filled up the boxes and will have a few stacks of papers [or manila folders] on the table in front of you, with a post it note on each as to the category. You’ve now done the ‘macro’ sorting and it’s time to do the fine tuning. Now that you can see how any files you need to store you can work out where they’re going to go. You will need a filing system which will enable you to keep your papers sorted on an ongoing basis such as:

– A filing cabinet with well labeled drop files
– Magazine files to hold L-shaped pocket files [these hold up to 30 sheets of paper each, come in different colours and are transparent]
– Concertina file with indexed or numbered pockets
– Archive boxes

The system you adopt may be dependent on the storage space you’re going to use for your files, which could potentially be a cupboard or spare room wardrobe. Ideally your files will be stored out of sight and in such a way that you can access them easily. If they’re easy to see and to get to then you will be more likely to file the paper as it comes in the door.

Believe me, this will be the most worthwhile exercise you can do in cutting through the clutter because paper is probably the worst offender. And once you have sorted it all and set up your systems you’ll enjoy the sense of relief that there’s no more overwhelming paper clutter, and you’ll become more discerning when it comes to what paper you let in the door.

I hope these tips inspire you to get control of any paper clutter you may have, and do contact me if you have any questions on what I’ve outlined above, or need any further ideas.

I wish you a wonderful month ahead.

In Joy!

Angella Gilbert

P: 09 410 4166
M: 027 224 8937
E: angella@gioia.net.nz
W: www.gioia.net.nz

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