10 Ways to Better Organize Paper

By: Bonnie Joy Dewkett

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Paper is one of the biggest problems we have as a society. Here are 10 quick tips to get you organized and keep you that way!

  1. Have a big pile of paper? Flip it over and start sorting at the bottom. Chances are that most of the stuff on the bottom is old, expired, or no longer valuable to you. You will be able to make a big dent in a short period of time.
  2. When deciding on whether to file something or throw it away, ask yourself if you will really need to access it again. FACT: We only access 20% of what we file.
  3. Consider using digital storage to house your files. Use a small desktop scanner such as Neat Receipts, to quickly and easily store and sort documents.
  4. If you do use paper files, use names that you will be able to recall easily. For example, if you never remember the name of the gas company, file it simply under gas.
  5. Most bills can be thrown away after one year’s time. Consider using a monthly filing system to keep track of when to throw them away. Create 12 hanging file folders, one for each month. As you pay the bills that month, put them into that month’s folder. When the month rolls around again the following year, throw away the previous year’s bills and start over again. This will ensure that you never have more than one year’s bills taking up space in your office.
  6. When sorting through paperwork, touch it once and make a decision. If you need to take action, do it now. If someone else needs to attend to it, give it to them. If it is something to reference later on, create a reference file and place it there. Putting it back in the pile to address later will only make things worse.
  7. When you have a lot of tasks to do for the day, quickly sort the tasks in order of importance. Do what is most profitable or important to you first, then move on from there. Therefore, if you only have a little bit of time you will be addressing the most critical issues first.
  8. Stop the mail from coming in. Sign up for digital statements to cut down on the paper entering your home.
  9. Sign up for the Do Not Mail list here: http://www.directmail.com/mail_preference/. Although it will not prevent all unwanted mail, it will reduce the overall amount you receive.
  10. Finally, call catalog and magazine companies and tell them you no longer wish to receive their offerings. If you have a subscription period left, and you find you just don’t have the time to enjoy the magazine, change the address and donate it to a school or senior center in your area. For most catalogs, you can view their offerings online and even if you throw one catalog away, there is another coming in the mail very soon!

Along with these tips, ask yourself the following questions:

  • “What is the worst thing that would happen if I threw this document away?”
  • “How difficult would it be for me to get it again if I had to?”

About the Author
Bonnie Joy Dewkett, CPO® is an organizing expert, author, and motivational speaker. Her company, The Joyful Organizer®, creates and implements organizational systems for the home or office. Bonnie has achieved the designation of Certified Professional Organizer, CPO®, from The Board of Certification for Professional Organizers. She is a member of The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and has published The Joyful Organizer’s Guide to a Joyful Move, which is available on her website: www.thejoyfulorganizer.com.

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10 Ways to Better Organize Paper