Paper Clutter can be a huge issue even in 2020. Most of us don't even buy CDs and DVDs anymore, but we still have piles and piles of papers, bills, cards, letters, and even Post-It notes cluttering up our lives. Here are some of my tips for reducing some of the insanity.
Stop Paper Clutter AT THE SOURCE! This mostly has to do with the mail. I get a lot of clients asking me to set up a mail organizing system in their homes because their unopened or un-dealt-with mail is getting to be an issue and I always tell them that I haven't found a system that works aside from changing one's own behaviors. Taking five to ten minutes a day to process letters, bills, invitations, junk mail, and publications as soon as they land on your doorstep can be a difficult habit to adopt, but one that will ultimately eliminate the mail clutter problem at its source. Simply stopping procrastination when it comes to processing mail, is the only solution I find that is FAIL PROOF at dealing with mail clutter.
Go Paperless! Luckily enough, most businesses are happy to stop sending you physical bills in the mail. This includes your bank, your insurance company, and even when you shop in a physical store. If you're concerned about these things cluttering up your email box, you can set up a separate account for receiving these documents like firstname.lastname@example.org
Digitize Physical Memorabilia: If you have boxes of old photos (or even worse, slides) lying around and are overwhelmed, a great idea that I've seen work for many is to have these photos digitized. If you're willing to spend the time, you can scan them yourself or you can send them off to a company such as iMemories and they will charge a small fee to scan each photo and send you a digitized version in whatever format you choose.
Use an App for Passwords: Keeping track of passwords can be overwhelming, especially now since we have logins to sp many online places. My favorite password App is Dashlane, but LastPass is very good as well. These apps can create secure passwords for you so that you have some peace of mind when logging into websites.
Utilize Scanning & Cloud Apps: There are so many places online now to store scanned documents online and some of my favorites are Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Dropbox is excellent for being able to share these documents with other people. Evernote is my favorite however being that it's easy to create documents and tag them so that you can easily find them later. Evernote Scannable is the very sleek scanning app that coordinates seamlessly with Evernote.
Take Advantage of Scanning Services: If you need to scan a large number of documents and don't want to spend the time, you can have a service scan them for you with FedEx Office and Staples being the easiest to access and most widely available.
Setting Up A Filing System:
There are likely three kinds of papers you typically have kicking around:
Active Files (Keep Temporarily)
Permanent Files (Keep Forever)
Things to Shred/Recycle
Active Files might be medical bills, documents having to do with your vehicle, tax documents, etc. ALWAYS consult your tax preparer or legal representatives if you have questions about how LONG you need to keep physical copies of certain documents! For example, if you have questions about whether or not to keep physical copies of medical bills or other items consult whoever might collect these documents, like your insurance company, your auditor, or creditor. You may only need to keep them for a LIMITED amount of time. I recommended making a note of HOW LONG they require you keep the hard copies and make a note of it when you file it:
Physical Copies To Keep FOREVER: anything related to state or federal matters, including certifications, licenses, deeds, marriage licenses, divorce certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, wills, adoption papers or records of paid mortgages.
When trying to sort out files, try to keep categories broad at first. It's overwhelming if you start to micro-categorize. Remember to keep it simple! Again, if you are concerned about whether or not to keep a hard copy of a document, you consult whoever may need to collect it. Find a few of my favorite paper organizing items here on Amazon! (Affiliate Storefront: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.)