How to Handle Paper Clutter | Organizing Made Fun: How to Handle Paper Clutter

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How to Handle Paper Clutter

Today, I'm so excited to bring you a guest post from a sweet lady. Mary is a professional organizer and mother of four. She loves to organize, create, decorate and then blog about it at MaryOrganizes. Mary doesn't chase after perfection, her goals are a healthy home and happy life. She has amazing organizing skills and is here to help me out with all my back and forth traveling I've been doing. Now..let's handle that paper clutter before it controls us!

How to Handle Paper Clutter :: 

 If paper is your problem, you are not alone! 

Laundry and Paper are the monsters of homemaking and are more similar than you realize. A good strategy for laundry maintenance can teach you a lot about how to solve your paper problem. Your dirty clothes go in a hamper until its time to wash it. It would be a waste of time and energy to wash each piece of laundry one at a time as it becomes dirty. I use my inbox as my paper hamper and I save time dealing similar types of papers (or loads) at the same time. 

Your paper needs a place to go until the time to deal with it. I use an inbox that sits in my little desk nook near the kitchen. When mail comes in, I do a quick sort and recycle the obvious junk mail and place the rest in my inbox. 

Sometimes I don't have time to even do the quick sort or someone else checks the mail for me, so even junk paper ends up in the inbox. When papers come in from the doctors, school, church, or other places, it goes straight to the inbox. All that paper never even has to grace any surface ... of course it still does, and when I find paper on surfaces, I put it in the inbox. If you want to read more in depth about effectively using an inbox, read HERE. 

An inbox is vital for keeping clutter off surfaces in my home! The inbox gives paper a place to go until it is time to deal with it. Of course, like a good laundry routine, it is better to have a plan. If you piled your dirty clothes in your hamper without a regular routine of washing them, you'd be overrun with dirty clothes and piles would start forming outside of the hamper. 

Laundry can be maintained with a weekly wash schedule, and so can paper. Once a week I make an appointment with myself to empty my inbox. I take the time then to pay bills, make phone calls, and file the papers where they go. Grouping these similar activities makes this chore go quickly. So not only am I avoiding piles of paper becoming a clutter problem, I'm staying on top of important home management tasks and saving time while I do it. 

I schedule my home management session for a time when I rarely have schedule conflicts and I know I'll have a chance to focus. A weekly appointment means that I am going to deal with paper within a week of receiving it. Very few paper things require more urgency than handling within a week, and usually those are things we know about in advance or receive a phone/email reminder to handle. 

Another great thing about the inbox is that if you happen to need a paper that hasn't been dealt with yet, you know where to find it! If you'd like to read more in depth about my Inbox Appointment (or Home Management Session as I call it), read HERE. I have a routine I follow during my appointments so that I handle other important things at the same time. 

 An important part of handling paper is having an organized place for papers you're keeping. You have closets and drawers for your clothes, some papers need a permanent place to go too. Some papers make sense to go in a home office filing system and some papers make sense to go in a home management binder. Your filing/binder systems will work so much better if you are only keeping papers that truly need to be kept. Just like you get rid of clothes that you don't like or don't fit right anymore, you need to get rid of unnecessary paper. 

Ideally, your home office files are mostly self-maintaining. I explain a great way to manage home office files HERE. There are a few easy tasks to do at the beginning of each year, but other than that - it maintains itself! Trust the system and don't sabotage yourself. Because I've kept up this system long enough, I trust myself with it. Just like I don't worry about running out of clean clothes or towels, because I have a routine for making sure laundry is maintained, I know I'm going to handle paper too. This means that even important mail goes to my inbox, because I know it will get handled appropriately. I've noticed clients sabotaging themselves with "important piles of paper" near their inbox just in case they don't actually go through the inbox as planned. This is a form of sabotage! By creating other piles, you are in effect creating new inboxes and making your actual inbox obsolete. 

Force yourself to put even important papers in there and you will train yourself to trust the system! 

 I feel so honored that Becky asked me to share some tips with you today! Her blog is such a great resource and I'm thrilled to contribute my advice on handling paper clutter. I'd love for you to connect with me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter!

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