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Keeping on Top of Paper Clutter

Keeping on Top of Paperwork | Archive Robin

What does 'sorting your paperwork' mean to you? I mean, what does it look like when you do it? Everyone has their own way of handling the paper that invites itself into their space. Or not handling it. Here's my way:

Step 1: Open

Open any envelopes as soon as they arrive at your home. (Whether the come through the letterbox, or arrive with you in your handbag).

Step 2: Decide

Do you need to *do* anything? If not, then move straight on to Step 3.

If yes... well, if we were following the "touch it once" principle, then I'd have you do each task there and then. But that's obviously nonsense. I haven't forgotten you've only just arrived home, and have more important things to do right now. Like put the kettle on, and take your bra off.

All the same, I do want to make sure the thing *gets done*, even if I am not going to do it straight away. This usually translates to setting a reminder on my phone to do whatever it is. Or if To Do Lists are your thing, add the task to the list.

Here's the key though: when you set your reminder/add the To Do item, include all the info you need from the paper in your hand.

So say you receive a reminder to get your eyes tested. You can't phone for an appointment now because it is outside of opening hours. So set a reminder to make the call, and add the phone number to the reminder.

Once you've either dealt with, or made sure you will deal with, everything, then move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Sort

Treat every sheet of paper as separate. You know how you often get a letter with important information that you need. But it also comes another bunch of pamphlets or whatever. Just keep the pages you need. If you need the other bumph in the future, it would be quicker for you to google it then, than to root out that old brochure. (Which may be out of date by then, anyway!)

Clear the decks of every single piece of paper that just arrived in your home. Either file it, recycle it, or shred it.

Okay, so maybe sounds like I'm living in dreamland. But here's what makes it actually work for me in the real world: I keep my file system, my shredder and a recycle bin right by my front door.

I am fortunate enough to be responsible only for myself, and I don't have a lot of paperwork coming in. So for me, this literally takes one minute, and I do it while kicking my shoes off. (Thinking about it, perhaps I'd be quicker if I weren't hopping around on one leg while doing it...)

What's your method?

Any tips and tricks to share? Particularly from people who have a greater volume of paperwork coming in on a daily basis. I have been trying to reduce my paper-usage, so I am dealing with less than I used to. And having other people's admin to contend with is a whole different kettle of worms...!

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