Friday, July 15, 2016

Taming the Paper Clutter

Over the past 6 months, my desk has been piling on the papers and I can't quite shake them. The idea of having to sit down and tackle this mountain of receipts, bills and class notes is more than I can take at the moment. The problem is that the longer I leave it, the more I want to put it off.

But enough is enough.

My initial idea was to sort through this mountain of paper clutter, organize it beautifully and post photos of the wonderful space AFTER it was complete. However, I know myself too well and each day I walk into the study, I tell myself "I need to get round to sorting that out" but time goes by and "sorting that out" never comes around. So I thought I'd force myself to do it by publicly setting the goal. What's left of this month of July is going to be my own personal "Taming The Paper Clutter Challenge" (you're welcome to join me if you want, I'd love to see how you get on in your own homes).

The first thing I have to do to escape this never-ending circle is to EVALUATE my current system. Paper clutter comes in all shapes and sizes and there is definitely not a one size fits all way to tackle it. So, the first thing to do is to decide what categories I need to divide my papers into. For example:

  • Personal documents (passports, birth certificates)
  • Work stuff (contracts, pay slips, social security papers)
  • User manuals and instructions
  • Bills
  • Bank statements
  • Medical (doctor, dentist)
  • Class notes 
  • Receipts
  • Other bits and bobs

Once this is done, it's time to get to the "sorting" part of the job. It's time to sit down with all my paper and divide them into categories. A nice wide flat surface is perfect for this, like say, the floor. Don't forget to THROW things away if they're no longer useful (mental note taken). 

Once I have my categories and my papers sorted out, it's time to create SYSTEMS for each group. For example:
  • Hanging folders
  • Accordeon files
  • Binders
  • Folders
  • Document boxes

How many papers are in each group? Is a folder enough or will I need a binder? Can I keep these documents in a box on the shelf rather than in the filing cabinet? Papers that you need to reach often our best kept at arm's length. Old documents you rarely use (like old bank statements) can easily be kept in a document box on a shelf. 

And last but not least, make it PRETTY. You now have everything in it's place but it's still looking rather bleh? Time to break out the markers and the washi tape and the patterned paper and start color-coding it all!!! Ok...might have gotten carried away there... It's time to personalize each system to make it look that much prettier (and hopefully get you to keep the system always organized). 

Okay, so enough scribbling about what I'm going to do. I better actually get to it. I may even pin some inspiration on my Pinterest boards. Hopefully, I can share the results with you by next month!!

Do you find dealing with paper clutter difficult too? What systems do you use to keep it under control? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments below!!


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