Managing Paper Clutter
Let's cut to the chase – paper needs to be dealt with regularly or it will get out of control. There is no other option unless you want to wake up buried. Luckily, the process for taking control of paper is fairly simple. There are really only three things you can with paper. I am serious. Dealing with paper is not rocket science – it might be a pain but it's not complicated. Three choices, that's really it.
ACT ON IT
Within a second of taking a look you should be able to determine if you need to do something with any particular piece of paper. Ask yourself: Does this paper require some sort of further action? Falling into this category are things you need to pay (bills), read (school newsletter), use (coupons), respond to (invitations) or think on (summer camp brochure). You can see act on it papers have a verb attached.
These papers don’t require action, instead they contain information you will want to refer to in the future. Archive items are really historical documents – they may be long term or short term. Types of things that fall into the short term archive category might be sports schedules, employee handbooks, manuals, receipts, takeout menus, and so on.
Long time archives are things that you will not need to reference regularly, if at all, but must be kept for legal, financial or historical reasons. Things that fall into this category might be tax returns, loan documents, home improvement records, property deeds, birth certificates, and so on.
That kind of says it all, doesn't it? Abandon means let it go – recycle or shred, but in any event you say goodbye. Assuming you don't have a special situation you can safely abandon a huge percentage of the paper that comes into your space. In this day and age most things, especially much of what falls in the short term archive category, is accessible online. It's incredibly rare to let go of a document and not be able recover the information fairly quickly. Letting go of paper is the fastest way to manage it. A good question to ask yourself is this: What is the worse case scenario if I let go of this paper? If you can live with answer let the paper go.
Ten minutes a day – that's really all it takes to manage the average family's paper flow. Make it a habit to deal with mail on a daily basis and you will save yourself time and frustration.
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