You can win the fight against paper clutter!
Here are six tips to get started.
Paper clutter used to be my biggest frustration in my work at an organized home. No matter how tidy my house was, once the mail truck pulled away it was an inundation of paper junk mail every day. It's so frustrating that any company can send me paper clutter as much as they want. And then there are the free newspaper circulars on my lawn, door handle notices and coupons that I don't want. It should be a crime!
Fortunately, there are ways to fight this battle. There are two issues: processing incoming mail and then filing the stuff you need to keep. Let's talk about the first one first:
Get organized and control incoming mail
1. Pay your bills
online (instead of waiting for the pink envelope)
This takes a little time to set up, but almost anything, from credit cards to your mortgage to trash pick up, has an online bill paying service. Being consistently punctual with your mortgage payment especially will improve your credit score. You will often still receive a paper statement, unless you opt out of that, but at least you can stay on top of your bills.
The kick in my pants came when my husband and I accidentally let our health insurance lapse because statement after statement ended up in some pile next to the front door. And did I mention that was the month my second son was born? Not a cheap lesson.
2. Speaking of credit cards, stop those annoying offers from coming!
The majority of my paper clutter used to be credit card offers. Did you know that you can remove your address and phone number from unwanted solicitations by just requesting it? Do it today –
this helpful website
walks you through the steps. Problem solved!
3. Purchase a mail holder and keep it next to the door
I got mine at Target, and it's just a little three tier holder. One slot is for mail that I know I want. Another is for things that I've already reviewed in our business meeting but haven't processed yet, and the other is for the checkbook and stamps.
4. Place a trash basket near the front door for recyclable paper
I don't know about you, but for some reason it's just too far for me to walk into the kitchen recycling when I just walk in the door. I end up just putting junk mail on any available surface. If you have a little basket there already, it's easy to toss in junk mail and avoid building a pile.
Okay, now what? Please don't say “filing...”
5. Purchase accordion pocket folders
Figure out what statements you need and make a place in your accordion folder. I can fit everything into a 12 pocket file, from bank statements, credit cards, retirement stuff, and some utilities. I actually toss my phone bill, trash bill, and internet bill because I'm pretty sure I don't need them. Here are the IRS
guidelines for how long to keep certain documents
6. Once a year, file those statements
Huh? Yearly? Well, that's what I do. I take everything out of my accordion folder, toss it in a big gold envelope, write the date on it, and toss the whole thing in my filing cabinet (and then never look at them again).
If you're just getting started, just do it! I remember years ago, talking to my best friend, while lamenting my huge mail pile:
She said, “well, it's easy to get rid of it.”
That caught my attention!
“What' do I do?” I wanted to know....
She said, “you just sort everything into piles so you can go through it.”
I sat on the edge of my chair with baited breath, waiting for the secret...
She stared at me blankly. “And then you go through it.”
I wish there were an easier way, but just get started and you'll be fine. Follow these five tips and you'll get rid of most of your paper clutter and keep it that way.
Go to Organized Home from Paper Clutter