Many of us struggle to keep up with the constant flow of paper into our homes. The messy pile(s) can have negative consequences, such as:
- Feeling anxious
- Late fees because bills aren’t paid on time
- Falling behind on submitting tax returns
- Not being able to find important documents when you need them
- Not returning forms on time
If you are feeling overwhelmed by paper clutter, I hope these tips will help:
- Keep all paperwork in one location. Try to think of the place in your home that would be most convenient for you to use as your home office. Some considerations: privacy, peace and quiet, space to store your files, current papers and stationery, and, proximity to computer and/or printer.
- Open your mail daily, every day.
- Use a simple Dzindz tray for all your current Dzthings to dodz. Mine includes incoming correspondence, on-going tasks and unpaid bills on a clip.
- Schedule a regular time to deal with paperwork. At a minimum this should be weekly. Make it a time that will be easy for you to stick to.
- Keep a list of Dzthings to dodz. You can then stop trying to rely on your (probably fallible) memory, and this will also help you to prioritise.
- Invest in a shredding machine if you are concerned about possible identity theft.
- Reconsider what you need to keep. Many financial records such as bank, credit card and superannuation statements are accessible online, as well as many of the bills we pay. Once we have dealt with these, we rarely if ever need to access them again, so perhaps you no longer need to keep the paper copies? Note: please check the rules about retaining tax records before discarding anything to do with tax.
When you are ready to organise your home office space:
- Find a large, flat space where you can spread out and create piles of papers.
- Gather all your papers together in one big pile.
- Depending on your requirements, the piles you sort into may include: unpaid bills, paid bills, tax, school documents, miscellaneous correspondence, filing, etc. Keep in mind that you can sort these basic categories into smaller sub-categories later in the process, so don’t make too many piles at this stage. Have a bin on hand, and a shredder if you use one.
- Once you have disposed of unnecessary papers and sorted what is left into logical categories, you are ready to set up a filing system that suits your requirements. A file drawer or cabinet with hanging files is great if you have the space, but there are other alternatives, such as accordion files. If you don’t have many papers to store, one or more folders with dividing tabs may work well for you.
- Label your files.
- Enjoy being able to find things straight away when you need them!