The amount of paper that enters our homes, on a daily basis, can be overwhelming; junk mail, bills, kid’s artwork, school correspondence, general correspondence, work papers, newspapers, magazines, take away menus, instruction manuals etc
Following are some easy steps to get started in taming the paper clutter in your home.
Get It All Together
Bring all the paper in your home to one place that you have designated to be your sorting station.
Establish four piles; to be recycled, to be filed, to be actioned and to be scanned.
Start sorting through each piece of paper and place in the applicable pile
Minimising the Incoming Paper
Nearly all banks and utility providers provide their statements and bills online. This saves a lot of paper coming into your home. The online process may not suit everyone. I, myself, am still a pen and paper kind of girl. As long as you have an organised spot for these items, in a filing cabinet or folder, that’s ok as well. Your management of paper needs to be a system that suits you.
If you have a lot of personal correspondence and you are worried about identity fraud, a small shredding machine is a great option. These are readily available and a cost-efficient solution. Shred-X provide a number of on-site solutions if you have large amounts to be shredded.
Most of your papers can safely be disposed of in your recycling bin on a weekly basis. Have a collection point near a door closest to your recycling bin. Just empty when it becomes full. It doesn’t have to be an ugly plastic bin. A beautiful rattan basket or similar is just as practical.
Scan what you can. Not every piece of paper needs to be kept in hard copy form.
Cancel any subscriptions you have for magazines or newspapers that you currently receive and do not read. Everything can now be found online.
I make a special note of these items because I am asked so often “what should I do with all the kid’s artwork?”.
If you have young children in daycare or at school you will know what I am talking about.
I suggest first, take photos of the artwork that enters your home. At the end of each school year go online and find a site for photobooks. Along with the artwork add some of your favourite photos from the year, school photo etc. These can make great gifts for family members at Christmas.
Get a few of those really special items framed. Put them up on a wall and enjoy them. Pieces of artwork that are filed away very rarely get looked at again.
Creating A Filing System
There are always going to be some papers that need to be kept for a period of time. These are best kept in a filing cabinet or folders e.g. insurance papers, superannuation info, tax etc.
The most common of these is listed below. Of course, everyone is going to need additional files. Make these to suit your family.
- savings account statements
- transaction account statements
- mortgage papers and statements
- personal loan papers and statements
- credit card statements
- mobile phones
- home phone/internet
- council rates
- health insurance
- car insurance
- home and contents insurance
- life insurance
- One folder for each investment
- One folder per pet
- One folder per person
- Current tax year (receipts, etc)
- Five previous years (tax returns, letters, etc)
- One folder per person
- One folder per child
Keeping It Organised
Once you have conquered the existing paper clutter in your home, establish a collection location where ALL future incoming paper is placed. Find a spot that is close to where you deal with your paperwork, eg on the kitchen bench, in your home office
In general, I keep papers by financial year. These can include bills, bank statements, insurance policies. Keeping it by financial year I know that every July I need to review and remove papers no longer needed.
Set A Time
Start a new habit and set a time aside each day to deal with your paperwork. Taking the time to shred, recycle and file on a daily basis. This will reduce the build-up that can occur very quickly.
Sorting and organising your paperwork may seem extremely overwhelming. Keep the elephant in mind.
“How would you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time”