You say you don’t like paper organizing. You are not alone. I’ve been organizing professionally for a number of years now, and I can reveal in all honesty that paper organizing is the bane for us pros too. It’s taxing on the brain, eyes, neck, and shoulders. It is time consuming and boring. Have I said enough nasty things about paper yet? We all talk about the good old days with promises of future paper reduction via electronics. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead we now have electronic files to sort through too. Like that’s going to happen. Now you’re either thinking she depressed the crap out of me or yep, she nailed it.
Here’s the scoop on paper.
Let’s first address the new papers coming in.
Immediately recycle or trash non-recyclable content as it comes in. Open your mail near disposal bins. Don’t leave any mail to fester because at some point it will need to be dealt with.
Take ALL bills out of their envelopes. You are more likely to tackle them if they are out of their secure wrap.
Place all bills in an ACTION bin or file or lay them upon your computer so the next time you log on, pay it and be done with it.
File paid bills away or shred if you feel comfortable parting with them immediately. If you need to save for reference or taxes, create a file or designate a bin for tax-related receipts.
Getting too much junk mail? Check out some of the listed websites to remove your name from mailing lists. Some services charge a fee. The most effective way to reduce unwanted solicitations is to contact the company directly to request removal from their database. Unfortunately, this requires time on your part and it may take weeks with intermittent mailings before implementation.
As you might imagine, as an organizer I have a fairly structured and detailed filing system. My brain needs this level of detail for more effective and efficient personal and professional file management. But not everyone functions like I do. Your brain wiring might go haywire with that level of precision. So here are two sets of suggestions:
Here’s the hardest part of the equation, finding the motivation to tackle paper piles. It all seemed so relatively logical until we got to the hands-on portion right?
Make an appointment with yourself and schedule an electronic reminder to sound.
Grab your shredder, recycling bin, or empty boxes. Bankers boxes with handles are ideal.
Locate a pile that you think will be fairly simple to zip through. This will help you gain some confidence and give you relatively quick satisfaction.
Find a comfy location with decent back support. If you wear glasses, go fetch them. Ensure your climate control is pleasing.
Select fun or contemplative music, a podcast or a mindless tv show for background noise.
Set a timer for 10-15 minutes. Play beat the clock. See how much you can accomplish before the timer sounds.
Take a 5 minute break. Refresh with water and nutritious snack if needed. Stretch your neck, back, arms and legs. Inhale deeply as you do.
Dive in again for another 10-15 minutes. My advice is stick with 30 minutes or less at a time for paper organizing to preserve your sanity. After each break you can choose to work on another quick project then return to the paper or return back to the piles. No need to do it all in one long stretch. You will lose your oomph.
Select another appointment date for the next stash to annihilate.
If you keep this up, you will be amazed at how much you will accomplish. In fact, ask a friend to give a hand, it will go twice as fast. One can shred and run boxes to the recycling receptacle, as the other scours documents. Catch up on the latest as you work side by side. Laugh, bitch, do whatever you have to in order to make progress.
Pardon the expression. If you are an ardent shredder at the beginning of the new year like I am, then you know what I mean. There are reams of paper that contain information that I choose not to throw into my recycling bin without nearly annihilating them first. We accumulate so many documents despite enrollment in electronic bill and brokerage statement delivery. I choose a day in January where I go through the previous year's folders and ditch any documents I no longer need.
Looking for suggestions for what to keep and release? Check out my May 25, 2017 blog Practical Tips for What to Keep and How Long by clicking here. Shred any documents that have your personal information that you do not wish compromised. This includes account numbers, social security numbers, tax documents, and account balances.
My advice for what it is worth is to research heavy duty, cross-cut shredders. This literally was a game changer from my ancient long strip shredder. I used to re-feed the paper or hand cut the strips for extra security. My new machine eviscerates the documents into 0.17" x 1.77" pieces up to 10 sheets at a time. At that rate, the process goes surprisingly fast. If you do not have one, check with friends or sites like NextDoor.com to see if you can borrow a shredder for a few hours. You can also take advantage of neighborhood shredding events. Keep your personal information secure.
Credit cards, staples, and paper clips are no match for my Ativa.
If you plan to invest in a shredder, be sure that it does the job thoroughly and quickly. This will save you time while giving you peace of mind.