This week, as I was searching for my blog topic I started going through files and tossing outdated information and then it dawned on me – I was dealing with some clutter. And, I found a whole folder full of tips to reduce clutter. I am sure we have all experienced this in some form with email messages, catalogs, bills, kid’s papers, etc., and at some point, lost track of an important paper such as an appliance warranty that got buried in a pile on a desk. So, as I am tossing, thought I would share some of these tips with you.
First, let’s start with some tips for creating a system to control the flow.
- Always open mail at a designated place near a filing system and with a trash can nearby. Mail that stays can then be sorted into baskets or folders. Try the TRAF system – Toss, Refer, Act, File.
- If your email has a filter function, set it up to presort messages into folders so you can respond in order of priority.
- Reduce the size of your reading pile (magazines, etc.) by cutting out the articles you are interested in and toss the rest. I have created files for this purpose that relate to the type of information being saved, such as recipes, or inspiration, or family.
- Create an all-in-one bill paying center with a box that holds stamps, address labels, envelopes. Everything you need to get that bill out of your to-do pile. Be sure to file any payment stubs in appropriate folders. You can also go paperless and pay bills online. Again, be sure to keep electronic records in appropriate folders for easy access.
- Are you saving all your kids art work? You know you can’t possibly hang every one of their wonderful creations on your wall. You can reduce the clutter and preserve them by scanning them and storing on your computer.
Some papers are critical and need to be kept in a secure location. Here are a few examples of what to keep.
- Auto titles, sales receipts, and service records
- Bank account info
- Credit card info
- Home improvements – some can affect your taxes
- Home inventory of valuables
- Insurance policies
- Legal documents – wills, estate trusts, power of attorneys, advanced health directives
- Mortgage and property records
- Tax returns (keep for six years)
- Warranties and sales receipts for major appliances
Be realistic, a certain amount of loose papers is inevitable. The test is can you find what you need, when you need it.
Okay, now that I have consolidated my file of articles to organize clutter, those papers are headed for the recycling bin. If you have other paper clutter organizing ideas, I would love to hear them and share.
Until next time…