Les Is More: How To Deal With Unwanted Paper

LeslieJacobs
By Leslie Jacobs
Columnist
One person piles it up, another tosses it in a drawer, and a third person sticks in a bag. What is the point of this? There are many ways to organize paper but none of the above are the correct way.

Motivation, passion whatever you call it. It helps when you are dealing with clutter, especially with paper since we are bombarded with it every day.

The US post office sends us paper; we need to show our gratitude by going through the mail every day.  Not liking what the post person delivered to our home or Post office box is not an excuse to toss them in a pile. Not having enough money to pay all of your bills, is not an excuse to leave them in a drawer. You need to go through your mail every day and decide what to do with it.

Sometimes, it is hard to be motivated to do something everyday, but when you look at the end result it makes it much easier to do the mail organizing chore.  The biggest organizing question is what to do with all the paper.   It’s always paper, because it is so easy to come by and hard to make it go away.

Actually, each member of the family needs their own “mail box.” A basket, shoe box, or file folder will do. Put the name of each family member written clearly on top. Each day the container is filled with the family members’ mail, papers, and packages. It is up to that person to go through it and decide what to do with all of that “stuff.”

Organize the bills by due date and keep all bills in a separate basket with your checkbook, pens, envelopes, stamps (if you are not paying online yet). If you do pay your bills on line or by phone, keep only the bill and toss the enclosed envelope away. After paying the bill on line, you can toss the bill.  You have a record through your bank now.

Put your magazines, newspapers in a place where you read-and recycle when you are done. Do not hold on to the magazine for one article, tear it out and put it where you read. Maybe put the papers on a nightstand in your bedroom or a favorite chair on the porch. The point is to put your reading material in a room where you will actually read it. Don’t let a few pieces of paper turn into a big clutter mess. Do it as soon as you can every day and getting organized by getting rid of your junk mail every week will cut your clutter by 50 percent and will leave you feeling less stressed, more energized and happier.

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Buy a shredder and put the shredder in the same room as your baskets for mail. Shred everything with your name on it, to help defend yourself from identity fraud.

With any type of organizing, get your children involved to help expedite the process. This would be a good bonding exercise with your child (or husband/wife/ girlfriend/boyfriend) and it would help you both learn a new skill; getting and staying organized.

Decide what to do with each piece of paper in 10 seconds or less. It gets easier as you become more familiar with the shred, toss and keep options. Do not “Keep” for a later time; you have to make the decision when you pick up the paper. If you are having trouble with the answers, try this one: “I can find the information elsewhere,” or “this gets put on the calendar.”  (For financial organizing, use someone your trust, or go online for my favorite: www.Jean Chatzky.com).

Best ways to not have paper clutter is to embrace technology and do all banking on line, and sign up for email for all of your credit cards.   Use only one calendar (online or paper) and put all notes for the appointment (phone, address, etc.) in the calendar and throw all those post-its away.

Think of each task as a little bite of getting organized.   Don’t look at the whole picture of your home with all the paper in it—look at one chair that has a pile of paper on it and go through that pile.  Every day one pile and soon there will only be a few piles left.

Have more questions on paper or being organized? Email me at Leslie@lesmess.com