Easy Ways To Organize, Store, And Reduce Paper Clutter
Alright this is it. I’m done dealing with paper clutter for years. Not only is it making my house look untidy but it’s also so time consuming looking for certain paperwork when needed.
I’m tired of spending time searching for things when I should be able to find them right away.
Usually, I’m good with getting things organized. Closets, pantry, kitchen drawers, laundry and bathroom cabinets, I’m always making sure it’s nicely organized. But when it comes to papers, it’s the least organized in my house.
It’s amazing how many paperwork there are, like insurance policies, mortgage documents, retirement plan statements, bank statements, tax documents, business paperwork and the list goes on.
Are you also struggling with paper clutter? In this post, I’m going to share few things that I’ve started to do, and it’s really helping me. I see less paper everywhere, I’m able to find them easily when needed, plus it makes me feel good overall, seeing everything so neatly organized. Makes my house completely clean and tidy now.
The best way to avoid spending lot of time looking for documents and getting frustrated is to keep them organized and up-to-date. The goal is to ensure that you can find what you’re looking for, even if it’s been years since that document was filed.
Tossing the document into the sea of papers, instead of putting it back where it belonged, will only waste a lot of time and energy searching for them.
Now the credit goes to KonMari method of organizing by Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. By following her method, here’s what I’ve done.
Gather Your Documents
Before organizing the documents, you need to first locate and gather all your documents. You’ll probably find some on your desk, on the kitchen countertop, kitchen drawers and baskets, bedroom dresser and nightstand. Don’t forget to check your handbag or your briefcase. You need to gather every single paper that you see in your house.
Sort and Categorize Your Documents
Now comes the next important step, sort your documents into different categories. In this step, I first sorted the papers into the categories listed below and then for each category I sorted the papers using the three categories recommended by KonMari method:
#1. Papers that need to be dealt with (example: Forms that needs to be completed and sent)
#2. Papers that need to be kept for a limited period of time (example: Auto insurance policy which can be replaced with the new one that’s sent to you by your insurance company)
#3. Papers that you need to sore for an indefinite time (example: Property papers, Life Insurance policies).
Get all your papers and sort them into these categories:
Health Records – under this category you can have all your medical bills, medical receipts, insurance policies, explanation of medical benefits. You can also include prescription lists, doctor visit summaries and notes, test results (like blood work, x-rays, MRIs, etc.).
Financial Records – this category includes bank statements, credit cards statements, investment related records like retirement plans, college funds, or stock investment, tax returns, loan documents.
Property Records – includes mortgage paperwork, appliance manuals and warranties, property tax details, home insurance policies, home improvement related documents like receipts, permits.
Auto Records – includes vehicle registrations, auto insurance policies, loan details and payment records, titles, maintenance records.
Personal Records – includes certificates (birth, marriage, divorce, death), passports, citizenship paperwork, custody papers, social security information, immunization records, wills, school reports.
Business or Blog Records – permits, license.
Important – Shred the documents that you no longer need. This is the best way to declutter.
Once you got them sorted, apply the KonMari method and determine which ones needs to be taken care of immediately, which ones can be filed away for a period of time and which ones need to be filed away for anindefinite time.
Use a Centralized and Simple Storing System
Having a centralized storing system, will keep all your documents in one place. Now, there would be some very important documents like your property paperwork, or any other document with critical and sensitive information. You can use fireproof safe or use an offsite storage option like safety box at your banking institution.
Simple storing system is easier to use. You want a system that you will use on a consistent basis so stay away from complicated ones.
When filing your documents use these tips:
Color-code your filing system. Use different color-codes for each category, for example: Green for financial records, blue for property records, and so on.
Using color-coded folder, boxes or binders, will help you find documents much faster since you know where to look for your document. Plus, its more appealing to your eyes then those boring manila folders. Make it bright and colorful!
Label It! Very important. Label the folders, boxes or binders so you know what’s in it. Place the labels where it’s easy to see. The goal is to be able to find the documents that you are looking for easily.
Organize chronologically. This is optional but works great! When organizing the documents think about how you might look for it. It could be by date, by type of document, by company name. I usually organize my documents by date for things like statements, bills, medical records. Use what works best for you.
You got all your important documents organized. It’s much easier for you to locate what you are looking for without wasting lot of time and energy. Doesn’t it feel great!
To maintain this, you need to make sure you file any new documents in the appropriate category. If needed get a new folder, label it and place those documents in there. Don’t place it on your desk, on your bedroom dresser, kitchen countertop…well you got the point.
Also, if there are old documents that got replaced with the new ones, for example; you got a new copy of your auto policy, get rid of the old one by shredding it. Get rid of any paper that you don’t need. Review your documents at least twice a year.
Tips on Reducing Paper Clutter
There are few things you can start doing today to reduce paper clutter.
Sign Up For Paperless Billing
Many businesses are now offering paperless billing options. Signing up for paperless billing is a perfect way to reduce paper clutter.
Take Care of Paperwork Immediately
You open the mails, read it and leave it on the counter or desk, planning to take care of it later. Instead, try to take care of it as soon as those mails enter your house. If you don’t it will start piling up and that’s what you don’t want. File them if needed ( use the filing method that we discussed earlier in this post), place them in your bills-to-pay file or box (create a station where you want to place all your bills sorted by the due date so you don’t forget to pay them and, any miscellaneous mails like flyers, offers, preapproved letters, if you don’t need it, recycle, or shred them. If it’s a form that you need to fill out and mail, do it right away. Otherwise, it will sit there and you might forget about it and miss the deadline.
Trust me, taking care of paperwork as soon as it enters the house, is the best way to get rid of unnecessary papers, plus it will make you feel so good that you don’t have to worry about taking care of it later.
Now let’s talk a bit about the bills-to-pay bin or file. Sometimes if you keep putting all your bills or forms that bin or file, it’s easy to miss the due date.
The best way to avoid this is by creating a list of bills with due dates. This document will show what bills are due when. Simply gather your bills or look at your bank accounts, when the bills were paid to get the due dates. This list will help you keep track of the due dates and get your bills paid on time (plus avoid any late fees).
Get rid of Subscriptions and Junk Mail
If you have subscription like newspaper and magazines and you don’t need it or hardly ever read it, cancel it. You will have less paper coming into your house. Or if there are magazines that you subscribed to for inspiration, then cut them out and place it in your inspiration binder. Again this can cause clutter, so only do that if you are going to use for a project. Once the project is completed, get rid of it.
Get Rid of Unnecessary Receipts
Have you ever found your handbag filled with receipts and takes forever to find the car key. Yep, I’ve been there many times. So now I have a better way to take care of my paper receipts.
Store the receipts in a binder. Using an expanding file with pockets will allow you to store receipts for each category, like groceries, clothing, entertainment, car maintenance. Or you can file them by store like, Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx. Whatever is easier for you and works the best.
Final Thoughts on Organizing, Storing and Reducing Paper Clutter
With some effort, you can get your papers organized and stored away the way you’ve always wanted to. Plus get rid of paper clutter. Save time and energy for your family and other important and fun stuff, rather than spending on searching for documents for hours.
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