The amount of memos, bills, notices and flyers just never seems to end. Without knowing why, you’ll soon find yourself deluged with a mountain of paper and now you don’t even know where to start.
Don’t panic. There is a way out of your paper pile. Getting organized is easier for some than others, but you must do it to control the amount of paper piles you have stacked around. Read the steps below and apply it for your office desk, kitchen counter, shelves, drawers or anywhere else a colony of paper seems to be settling in your surroundings.
Here’s how to conquer your paper piles.
- Don’t procrastinate! Address your pile today or it will just snowball into a giant paper avalanche. For your existing paper clutter, make three piles: Needs attention; Keep for filing; Trash. The first pile would be for items such as bills due, memos to read, invoices to send out or anything else that needs some attention. The second pile is for items you have already addressed but may be waiting for a response, or legally important documents. The last pile should be your largest because this is what makes up your clutter. Throw away old receipts you won’t need for tax filing, flyers, office memos you’ve read, paid bills, and anything else that doesn’t need your attention anymore.
- Act on your needs attention pile immediately. Read the info, do what is necessary then throw it away or file it properly. If you are filing something, make sure you don’t just stuff everything in one envelope. Get several file folders and label properly. Then put away each paper under the corresponding folder. You know you have a good filing system if another person can come in (such as an assistant or spouse) and retrieve information from your files.
- Open new mail immediately and determine if it is necessary. For bills, you may highlight the amount due and due date then start keeping in them a folder or compartmentalized accordion envelope. You may also sign up for an automatic bill payment system. Cut down on paper use by paying bills online or over the phone. As soon as it’s paid, throw away the bill. At most, hold it only until you get next month’s statement.
- Stop the inflow of unnecessary paper. Automatically throw out junk mail, menu flyers and bulletins as soon as you get them. Don’t fool yourself into believing you may need some information in it some time in the future. If it hasn’t happened in the last three months, you will never need it. Don’t worry. You’ll get more in the mail!
- Transfer the most pertinent information only on a main file and throw out the rest. If you have a stack of delivery menus, just copy down the name and phone number on a master file. You can always call to ask what they offer. Don’t keep entire issues of old magazines. Just rip out the page you like then throw the rest. For business cards, enter the information on your PDA or make an excel file for electronic access.
- Try to be paperless. Read your email instead of printing them out. Send information electronically as much as possible.
- Purge your files at least every three months. You’ll be surprised at what unnecessary papers you’ve still managed to file away.
Once you get organized, it’s easier to find documents. It is possible to conquer your paper piles so start today!