Creating a Paper Management System for Your Home: Step 3
Dear Jo the Clutter Buster:
It seemed to take forever to go through all that backlog of paper (and that was the first sort?) How can I be sure that the piles of paper won't return?.
Invaded by Paper
Your first line of defense is to keep the marauding hordes of paper from accumulating in your life. One basic rule:
Keep paper from entering your home.
In order to be able to manage paper, it is critical to reduce the amount of paper coming into the house. Place a recycle bin or bag near your mailbox or the entrance to your home. Before you hang up your coat, discard anything that you do not need to open or read: flyers, credit card solicitations, packages of coupons aka junk mail. If you are worried about identity theft, place the shredder near the door and use it.
Most magazines are 60% ads so consider canceling all magazines. With so many publications on line, you might want to also cancel the newspaper, newsletters and the like until you have created a functioning paper management system. DON'T PRINT THEM FROM THE INTERNET.
Next, identify one room, one area, one desk, or a specific table that will serve as your Office. EVERYONE needs an office in which to process paper. If you will be sharing an office, you will still need your own workspace.
All paper* should be taken DIRECTLY to the Office. Do not start opening mail as you hang up your coat, drive the car, or open the fridge. Instead, put all paper in a basket, box, or In box and take it to the Office daily.
Do not put the mail in paper bags or your tote bag to review when you have 'free time'. Do not drag bills and important papers to games, appointments, etc. Although your intentions are good, more often the bills just remain in the bag and are paid late. (You can take reading materials that you then discard or cards or letters to write. (Be sure to take your address book and stamps and remember to mail them.)
*Paper: Defined as any document that might need to be reviewed, paid, signed, filed, answered, recorded, read, returned or passed on.
Yes, Invaded, there is still more to do with all those boxes of paper that reside under your work surface.
As you erect the barriers to 'invading paper', next time we will Create the Archives.