Bills to pay. Newspapers and magazines to read. Receipts, warranties and instructions to save – the list goes on and on. Each day we are bombarded with papers that need our attention. If you feel that papers are taking over your life, read on and learn how to take control of this task.
1. Gather Supplies. First, gather file folders, hanging file folders, felt-tip pens or a label maker, a shredder, and large garbage (or recycling) bags or boxes. Every household or office also needs an appropriate type of file cabinet or box; the size will depend on the amount of papers you must keep. Enlist a friend or professional organizer if you need help or encouragement.
2. Start on desktops, countertops or urgently-needed surfaces. Your most recently-received papers will be here. Resist the urge to start with the papers on the floor or stuffed in paper bags or boxes.
3. Identify the types of papers you receive on a regular basis. Gather all the papers from the surface you’re working on into a neat pile. Pick up the top one. Ask yourself, “What is this? Do I need to keep it? Do I need to take action on this? Or do I just need to file it in case I need to retrieve it later?” Toss as much as you can.
4. Sort and use color for a memory aid. Sort into simple categories that make sense to you. For example, some home categories might include: medical, pets, taxes, hobbies, utility bills, car, home improvement, credit cards, insurance, education. Use fun colored folders to group categories. Also include files for: “TO DO,” “BILLS TO PAY,” “TO READ,” and “DISCUSS WITH SPOUSE/BOSS/PARTNER.”
5. Maintain your new system. From here on out, manage papers daily. Sort mail immediately. Toss junk mail. Put remainder into “TO READ,” “TO DO,” or “BILLS TO PAY” folders. Make time weekly to file everything else in your filing cabinet or box.
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